BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 12:46 GMT 13:46 UK
Rat poison threatens NZ marine life
Whalewatch boat at Kaikoura
Whale and dolphin watch tours have shut down
One of the world's best-known feeding grounds for whales, dolphins, and seals is under threat after a truck loaded with rat poison in New Zealand plunged into the sea.

The spill is potentially very serious

Local environmentalist
Eighteen tonnes of rat poison pellets and a small amount of paint tipped into the sea when a lorry and trailer overturned on a narrow coastal highway at the Kaikoura coast, 200km (125 miles) from Christchurch.

About 400 square metres of the sea turned bright green.

It was unclear whether the brodifacoum rat poison pellets or the green paint was to blame.

The authorities are monitoring the area which is home to large numbers of marine mammals. Most at risk are fur seals and birds, officials said.

Tourists from all over the world visit Kaikoura, which has the draw of whales feeding near the shore.

There are fears for marine life
"The spill is potentially very serious," Bob Simpson of Environment Canterbury told Television New Zealand.

"We have been on site all day and will remain until we ensure the environmental effects are minimised."

Officials have warned the fishing industry to avoid the area, and a temporary ban has also been placed on fish and shellfish by the Kaikoura District Council.

Locals rally round

Local people rallied around to help during the clean-up.

The ocean is very important to almost everyone that lives up there so... people offer to help in any way

Local volunteer
"We've offered our boats and I think others have as well," Kaikoura Whalewatch manager Wally Stone told the New Zealand Herald.

"The ocean is very important to almost everyone that lives up there so something like this means people offer to help in any way they can."

Health officials hope the slow-release characteristics of the poison will prevent serious harm to wildlife.

Although there is no threat to humans from the poison, local health authorities have said anyone showing symptoms of sore skin or vomiting should go to the hospital, the Herald reported.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

22 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Whales swim to freedom
09 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Global warming threat to dolphins
30 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
New tune for wooing whales
27 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Right whales face extinction
11 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Whaling ban set to end
07 Jun 98 | Sci/Tech
Noise threat to whales
18 Feb 00 | Europe
Nets blamed for dolphin disaster
Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories