Area?s biodiversity hit by oil spill

THE Curtis Coast is an area of high biodiversity and is home to a number of rare species, according to a representative from Central Queensland University's Gladstone campus.

Centre for Environmental Management senior research officer Dr Leonie Andersen said she had seen the effects of an oil spill first hand.

Dr Andersen said, dependent on the type and quantity of the oil spill, the amount of damage caused to the environment would vary.

'Oil can adhere to mammals and feathers of birds and cause poisoning if ingested by marine animals,' Dr Andersen said.

'It can cause smothering of algae on mudflats therefore poisoning or damaging at many food chain levels.'

Dr Andersen said because Gladstone was between Queensland's tropical and temperate zones there was a wide variation of habitat types.

'Gladstone has 50 per cent of Queensland bird species,' Dr Andersen said.

'It's home for a range of endangered and rare species including dugong, green loggerhead and flatback turtles and migrating waders.'

A spokesperson from the Australian Marine Conservation Society described Tuesday night's oil spill as 'a catastrophe for the Queensland coast'.

The spokesperson said the damage would be felt immediately by animals living in and on the sediment, with many expected to die from toxic shock initially after the spill.

He said the long-term impacts on the Gladstone harbour would be felt for "decades''.

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