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AIMS set to begin investigating ship grounding site

Posted on Monday, April 19th, 2010 at 7:05 pm by
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Remember Shen Neng 1, the Chinese Oil Tanker? The vessel ran aground off Queensland’s coast several weeks ago. Well, needless to say, it decimated the nearby reefs, and many are curious as to the scope of the damage. A research vessel carrying a team of marine scientists led by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, is set to begin searching for answers. The 24 meter, RV Cape Ferguson, is currently on it’s way south to the grounding site. As you may already know, the Tanker was removed last Monday night, leaving it’s Great Barrier Reef grounding site accessible for such an investigation.

The team intends to assess the severity of the damage caused by the actual grounding, as well as the potential level of contamination from antifouling paint (paint which prevents the growth of barnacles, weed, and other water life on the submersed hull of vessel). Dr Andrew Negri, the AIMS vessel leader, said the team will use a multi-beam sonar to map the sea floor, and quantify the physical damage. “This instrument can resolve the seabed to less than 10 centimetres, which means it will accurately record the damage caused by the ship’s hull,” said Negri.

Many large vessels use antifouling paint, which usually contains toxic chemicals such as heavy metals and herbicides. As the ship was scraping against the reef, this paint was literally scratched off of the ship, and onto the underlying reef. Sediment samples will be taken and analyzed by the team, in order to provide a contamination assessment.

We’ll provide up-to-date info as it is released.

[via aims.gov.au]

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