A boat carrying barrels of diesel fuel has sank near one of Ecuador’s ecologically sensitive Galapagos Islands, according to officials.
The spilled fuel left a “superficial” slick, but damage was minor and no one was hurt, according to Ecuador’s Environment Ministry and state-run oil company Petroecuador.
Saturday’s sinking was first reported by Petroecuador, which did not specify how much fuel spilled.
Galapagos National Park confirmed the sinking of its vessel, called the Albatroz, which park official said was used for scuba-diving excursions in waters of the islands and carried 47 barrels of fuel.
Containment booms have been set up around the area to try to control the spill, the company said. The national park suspended tourism activities around the city of Puerto Ayora, where its suspended headquarters is located.
All four crew members on the ship are safe, Petroecuador said.
Located in the Pacific about 600 miles off the coastline and famous for their giant tortoises, the Galapagos are a protected wildlife area and home to unique species of flora and fauna.
The archipelago was made famous by Charles Darwin’s observations on evolution there. The Galapagos marine reserve, in which industrial fishing is prohibited, is the second-largest in the world.
More than 2,900 marine species have been reported within the archipelago, which is a Natural World Heritage Site.
In 2019, a barge carrying a small amount of diesel sank off another Galapagos island, San Cristobal, causing a small spill, but damage was insignificant.
In 2001, an Ecuadoran-flagged vessel carrying 240,000 gallons of fuel also sank off San Cristobal. That spill did cause environmental damage that harmed several marine species.
With Post wires