Torrey Canyon image: Copyright Mariners’ Museum.
Join us at the MBA on Wednesday 22 March for a one-off special lecture for the 50th Anniversary of the Torrey Canyon oil spill.
This free, early-evening talk by Professor Stephen J. Hawkins will be focused on the history of the oil spill and the long-term rocky shore research surrounding one of the largest oil spills in Europe. Find out more and register to attend.
The tanker Torrey Canyon struck the Seven Stones Reef off Land’s End, Cornwall, in south west England, on the 18th March 1967. The cargo of about 119,000 tonnes of Kuwait crude oil started to escape from the damaged ship immediately and continued until the empty wreck sank in late April. The spill became notable for the enormous amount of oil-spill dispersants used in operations at sea and on Cornish shores. The toxicity of such dispersants was not fully understood at the time of the disaster and they had a devastating effect on the fauna and flora.
As soon as the large-scale use of detergents became known and the pollution of large stretches of the Cornish coastline was seen to be inevitable, it was decided to divert the entire resources of the MBA Laboratory to study the effects of oil and detergent pollution on intertidal and offshore marine life in the area.
See the PDF attachments below for the press release and more information about the work of the MBA on acute impacts and subsequent recovery of rocky shores after the Torrey Canyon spill.
Southward, A.J. and Southward, Eve C. 1978. Recolonization of rocky shores in Cornwall after use of toxic dispersants to clean up the Torrey Canyon spill. Symposium on Recovery Potential of Oiled Marine Environments. Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 35, 5: 682-706.
For further reading on pollution see the National Marine Biological Library's Pollution Collection