Oil Slick on the Visayan Sea

Last updated 11:57am (Mla time) 08/29/2006

This Radarsat imagery detected the presence of an oil slick in the Visayan Sea, an important fishing ground in the Philippines. Through an aerial survey conducted on Aug.26, Petron Corp. verified the presence of the slick.

The images were taken on August 24 and were received by WWF-Philippines on Aug.25. Space-borne radar imagery has proven to be the most efficient satellite sensor for oil spill detection on the ocean. Initial visual analysis shows that as of August 24, the slick measured 50 kilometers in length and covered a surface area of about 16 square kilometers.

Visual analysis of the imagery suggests that the slick is moving eastward towards southern Masbate, western Biliran and northern Leyte. Further analysis and interpretation of the imagery will determine the present amount of oil in the Guimaras Strait.

The Visayan Sea is a deep basin rich in nutrients and plankton. It possesses a diverse assemblage of sharks and rays, giant clams and other mollusks, and economically valuable blue crabs. Green and Hawksbill turtles have been reported to feed in the area. The sea is also a feeding and migration area for small pelagic fishes such as mackerel, sardines, anchovies as well as small tuna. Shallow areas have mangrove, sea grass, seaweed, hard and soft bottom habitats.

The threat of habitat degradation is particularly high in the Visayan Sea. WWF calls for all concerned agencies to contain the slick before it reaches the coastal communities of Masbate, Biliran and Leyte. (30)

For further information:

Dr. Jose Ingles
Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Coordinator, WWF-Philippines
[email protected]

Abbie Ramos
Conservation & Research Mapping & Systems Development, WWF-Philippines
[email protected]

Gregg Yan
Media Officer, WWF-Philippines
[email protected]