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Identification of oil on water

Assisting people involved in aerial observation and surveillance to more accurately report the presence of oil in the marine environment.
Aerial observation and identification guide
1 January 2014

The purpose of this document is:

  • To assist people involved in aerial observation and surveillance to more accurately report the presence of oil in the marine environment.
  • To help with locating, describing, documenting and reporting information about the oil pollution.
  • To assist observers to more effectively differentiate oil from other phenomena, however all sightings should be reported.

As accurate reporting of an oil spill is fundamental to successful response operations, this guide promotes standard reporting terms.  

Observers should concentrate on:

  • Location, distribution, colour and appearance of the pollution.
  • Weather, wildlife and vessels seen in the area.
  • Other marine phenomena can appear similar to oil; clouds, algal blooms, river and drainage discharges, coral spawn, kelp and sea grass beds, and even fish schools.

Further information is available from AMSA. Call +61 2 6279 5000 during business hours (EST).

Author 

Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Last Updated: 

28 September 2018