Bay of Plenty Times

Wildlife wash up after NZ oil spill

A SMALL army of thick, goopy blobs of oil has washed ashore at Mount Maunganui Beach in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty, along with the remains of marine animals.

The oil has inundated parts of Mount Main Beach's shoreline between Leisure Island and Grove Ave.

It is the first visible sign of pollution hitting the coast since cargo ship Rena ran aground on Astrolabe Reed on Wednesday.

The bodies of a sting ray, sea gulls, two large crabs and fish were also found washed ashore this morning.

Mount Maunganui resident Tracey Lewis was walking down the beach about 10.30am when she found chains of oil blobs across the shoreline.

"We were walking and at first we thought nothing of it. We thought the beach had lots of shells or rocks like pebbles on it," Ms Lewis said.

"Once we got to the bigger clumps, say about a 50 cent piece size, saw they were shiny and wobbly we knew what it was."

The oil is not anything like standard oil used in a mechanics, except it has stained patches of the sand with a rainbow sheen where the oil blobs have landed.

"It wasn't what I was expecting. I was expecting oil like, more of a liquid.

"It's everywhere."

Some clumps of the oil are relativity small like pebbles while others have a diameter of 25cms. They are not unlike black, toxic jellyfish.

Ms Lewis wondered how bad the situation was going to get. The oil was not forecast o hit local shores until Wednesday.

"This is just the start of it. What's it going to be like?"

Ngai te Rangi and Ngati Ranginui woman Karena Borrell-Shea was angry.

"I am. This is not good for us, the people of Tauranga Moana, we are all one people here.

"To see this, it's horrifying."

From the scene Ms Borrell-Shea expressed her upset and said the clumpy black blobs were "like invaders from another planet".

"My ancestors lived here on Mauao and if they were alive today and saw this, they would go out there and sink that bloody boat!"

Department of Conservation workers combed the beach this morning, collecting the dead wildlife. A spokeswoman said the creatures had not necessarily been killed from the oil but the bodies were being removed to distinguish between the animals that had died from natural causes and those from the oil.

The oil is understood to be highly toxic and anyone on the beach should refrain from handling it.

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