Oil-covered seal, ducks seen on Cape Freels beach

Bill Bryden says he suspects the seal is covered in oil that leaked from the sunken Manolis L vessel. (Submitted by Bill Bryden)

A man walking near Lumsden on Saturday says he came upon a seal that had scratched off a large portion of its fur after getting covered in oil — oil he's worried may have come from the sunken Manolis L.

Bill Bryden said he noticed what he thinks is an oil slick on the coastline near Cape Freels beach on Friday, and decided to see if any nearby wildlife had been affected.

While walking along the beach, Bryden said he saw several ducks, as well as the seal, covered in oil.

Bryden said the seal was not in good shape when he spotted it.

"Got half of the fur scraped off both of his front legs, half of his back has no fur, but back of his neck is all scratched raw. He's been in a lot of torture," said Bryden.

"He's going to die a slow, long, painful death. He's got himself scratched raw to the point where he's got his fur gone over I'd say 25 per cent of his body."

Bryden said he returned to the spot to try and find the seal again, but couldn't locate it.

Oil cleanup

Bryden isn't sure where the oil came from, but he thinks the oil washed ashore between Cape Freels and Newtown to get samples for chemical analysis to determine its origin.

Once he gets a sample, Bryden plans to send it to the federal environmental department so they can track down the spill — which Bryden said he suspects leaked from the Manolis L.

Bryden added that if that's the case, government needs to explore its options about how to extract the oil from the oil carrier, which sank in Notre Dame Bay in in 1985 and still contains roughly 500 tonnes of fuel.

"Hopefully some politician will realize that there's $405-million sitting in an oil cleanup fund that's not being used, or supposed to be sitting there, and spend a little bit of it and if it costs $20 or $30 or $40-million to get that oil out of that ship before it wipes out this coastline — then that's what they need to be doing," he said.

Bryden was referring to the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund, which falls under Transport Canada.

A community group said in December the Coast Guard of Canada has applied to the fund many times in the past, but has not sought money from the fund for cleanup at the Manolis L site.

In December, a spokesperson with Fisheries and Oceans in Ottawa referred to past court actions involving the vessel as the reason the Coast Guard hasn't applied to the fund.

Bryden said getting the oil removed from the sunken vessel would be a less expensive endeavour for government than trying to clean the environment up after the oil gets out.

On Jan. 18, there is a community meeting scheduled in Twillingate to talk about the Manolis L.

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