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Glassom, D., Prochazka, K., Branch, G.M.: Short-term effects of an oil spill on the West coast of the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. Journal of Coastal Conservation, 3: 155-168, 1997.


Abstract. In 1994, the sinking of the ‘Apollo Sea’ off the West coast of South Africa led to the deposition of ca. 2 500 tons of heavy fuel oil over 150 km of coastline. The impact of the spill on rocky shore invertebrates, rock-pool fish fauna and rock lobsters was assessed by conducting surveys shortly after the spill, and again two months later. Where possible, results of these surveys were compared with existing data from before the sinking of the Apollo Sea. Among the fish fauna of rockpools, changes in total density of fishes were largely due to changes in the abundance of Clinus superciliosus and were within the range of natural variation for the species and the community as a whole. Community structure of the rock-pool fish fauna also remained unaffected. At three of four impacted rocky shore sites no changes could be detected in overall benthic community structure, although the winkle Nodilittorina africana was affected. At the fourth site, a boulder beach, statistical analysis showed distinct differences in community structure between heavily and lightly contaminated areas, as well as between all areas compared with previously existing data. There were also significant changes in the lightly oiled areas between the first and second surveys after the spill. Oil-fouled lobster were found at one of three sites investigated. Ca. 7 % of the seabed in this particular area was polluted. Antennae and forelegs of almost all lobsters in the vicinity of the oil were fouled. Examination of the gut-contents confirmed that oil inhibits the ability of lobster to feed. Although there was no evidence that mortalities of lobsterwere caused by the spill, growth rates may be reduced by the decreased feeding rate. Overall, the impact of the spill was strikingly less than might have been predicted from the effects of other oil spills.

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