ONE of Jervis Bay’s most popular beaches was closed to the public after a contaminant washed up on the shore.
Murrays Beach in the Booderee National Park at the southern shore of Jervis Bay was closed to the public after a contaminant that looked like some sort of fuel and had a petrochemical smell was found along half of the beach.
The spill was spotted shortly after 2pm on Tuesday and the beach closed to the public on Wednesday, although it was expected to be reopened late Thursday.
Booderee National Park rangers erected signs, warning the pubic the area was contaminated and closed to the public until further notice.
Booderee National Park manager Scott Suridge said the beach was closed as soon as authorities were alerted to the contamination.
“The contamination was in the shoreline along half of Murrays Beach,” Mr Suridge said.
“It ended up moving by wind and current, dispersing pretty quickly the same day.”
He said the park was still investigating the source of the contamination, working with local agencies, including the Jervis Bay Territory Administration.
“The contamination looked like some sort of fuel and had a petrochemical smell,” he said.
“Samples were taken and we hope once analysed we will be able to match these back to its original source.”
He said the beach remained closed on Thursday as a precautionary measure on advice from ACT Health Protection Services.
“We have received preliminary advice there appears to be none or only a minor sign of contamination from Tuesday’s event,” he said.
“Fortunately it appears that there has been only a minimal impact on the park’s marine life.
“Marine micro fauna such as marine lice have been found dead on the beach.
“We are continuing to closely monitor the health of all our marine life, including our seabirds.”
Investigations into the substance are continuing.
At the same time park officers have said the dead seabirds washed up on the shoreline around Jervis Bay aren’t believed to be connected with the slick on the bay.
The South Coast Register has received photographs of hundreds of shorebirds believed to be shearwaters, or mutton birds, a species that traverse the coast every year on their migration between the islands of Bass Strait and Russia.
Mr Suridge said officers had found one dead petrel but whether its death is related to the contamination was unclear.
“The photos of dead shearwaters or mutton birds being sent around are not related to the contamination,” he said.
“It is the regular migration time for our shearwaters or mutton birds.
“Typically the weaker birds do not survive the migration and get washed up on beaches around Jervis Bay.
“This is a natural phenomenon and not related to the incident at Murrays Beach.”