An aerial view of the marine oil-spill near Bligh Island in Nootka sound that the Canadian Coast Guard posted in a live social media feed. ( Canadian Coast Guard/Facebook)

An aerial view of the marine oil-spill near Bligh Island in Nootka sound that the Canadian Coast Guard posted in a live social media feed. ( Canadian Coast Guard/Facebook)

Active marine oil slick near Nootka Sound tied to historic 1968 Bligh Island shipwreck

Coast Guard, First Nations, province responding to a slick off northwestern Vancouver Island

An environmental response team has traced a marine oil spill in Nootka Sound to a freighter that sank off the West Coast of Vancouver Island in 1968.

The Canadian Coast Guard began investigations mid-September after local residents began reporting about sheen on the water. What was initially thought to be created by bilge discharge from vessels transiting through the area later turned out to be originating from shipwrecked vessel MV Schiedyk – the 483 feet cargo ship that sank upside down in Zuciarte Channel near the east end of Bligh Island, on Jan. 3, 1968 shortly after departing from Gold River.

Bligh Island – a popular recreational destination for anglers boaters and kayakers – is within the traditional territory of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation and the Spanish Pilot Group of Islands.

RELATED: North Island identified as highly sensitive to oil spills, despite low probability

RELATED: Alberni spill response base to conduct exercise at fuel dock

The ship — carrying 2,130 tonnes of wood pulp — was on route to Portland, Oregon when it struck a submerged ledge on the south side of Bligh Island.

Near midnight the ship floated off the ledge and drifted down Zuciarte Channel before grounding again on the east side of Bligh. Before the 34 crew members abandoned ship that, oil was reported on the water but investigators are still unsure of the amount that spilled that night. Sonar indicates the shipwreck is in 360-400ft of water.

The 483ft cargo ship MV Schiedyk had departed for Portland, Oregon from Gold River, when it struck a ledge and sunk on Jan. 3, 1968. (Canadian Coast Guard/SpillResponsebc)

An Incident Command Post (ICP) has been set up and the Canadian Coast Guard and the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, Hesquiaht First Nation, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Western Canada Marine Response and other partners are working together to respond to the situation.

The ICP is under the direction of a Unified Command shared between the Canadian Coast Guard and the provincial environment ministry and is monitoring developments virtually, according to a statement released by the Unified Command.

An environmental unit consisting of local First Nations will be established as they continue to provide valuable local knowledge about the area, and identifying sensitive ecological and archaeological sites. 10,000 feet of boom has been deployed to protect seven such sites.

“While the current amount of marine pollution is minimal (between 30 t0 50 litres), we are on the water and taking steps now to address the immediate threat to the environment and cultural sites in the area, and are assessing longer term strategies and actions,” the Canadian Coast Guard said in a social media post.

The Unified Command, is also deploying Fisheries and Oceans marine mammal oil spill response team to survey the area for potentially impacted mammals, they said in the statement.

A remotely operated vehicle has been deployed to gain a better understanding of the condition of the shipwreck, where the fuel may be leaking from, and, if possible, to get an idea of how much fuel is onboard.

Similarly drone surveillance to assess the spread and direction of marine pollution and lab sampling of contaminant is also underway.

“Once the Unified Command has made these assessments and taken initial action to protect sensitive areas, longer term strategies and tactics will be developed for containment and protection, and ongoing information gathering will determine the action plan,” said Tyler Yager, deputy superintendent for environmental response (western region) for the Canadian Coast Guard, in a video statement.

The team also said that on-water and on-site operations will be dependent on weather and sea conditions in the area as work progresses this winter.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Environment

Just Posted

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Island Savings kick-starts the Equipped to Heal campaign with $120,000. (Courtesy Victoria Hospitals Foundation)
Latest Victoria Hospitals Foundation campaign targets $1M for mental health

Goal is to outfit new 19-bed unit at Eric Martin Pavilion

Google Maps shows significant traffic backups after a crash reported shortly before noon on Father’s Day, June 20. (Google Maps)
Father’s Day crash in Saanich closes lane of McKenzie Avenue

Police say there were injuries, traffic impacted

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read