Coastal Oil Spill: Apollo Sea Shipping Disaster — June 1994



The sinking of the Apollo Sea bulk ore carrier off the west coast of South Africa, in June 1994, resulted in an oil spill which had a great impact on the endangered African Penguin bird populations nesting on islands in the vicinity. Due to the relatively rare occurrence of this type of disaster in this region, the media focused much attention on the plight of these birds, the efforts taken to rehabilitate them, as well as the oil pollution inflicted on many of Cape Town's prime tourist beaches. The Major Coastal Oil Spill Contingency Plan was seriously tested in all aspects. Severe storms battered the whole area at the same time, which made the tasks of participating relief organizations all the more difficult. Good co-operation and co-ordination minimized the effects to a great extent; nevertheless, many lessons were learnt.