Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program
B.T. Nautilus Fuel Oil Spill
United States of America
Habitat Enhancement; Population Support
Affected DOI Resources:
Migratory Birds; DOI Managed Lands; Threatened and Endangered Species
Monitoring / Completed
On June 7, 1990, the oil tanker B.T. Nautilus grounded in the Kill Van Kull between Bayonne, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York, spilling approximately 267,000 gallons of fuel oil. Damages outside of the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary included the loss of recreational use of beaches and injuries to federally threatened piping plovers as the spill occurred during the nesting season. A settlement was reached in April 1994 and the owner of the vessel, Nautilus Motor Tanker Company, paid $3.3 million in compensation for natural resource injuries. A major component of the damage claim were injuries to piping plovers.
Biologists in New Jersey determined that the most effective means to restore piping plover populations would be to reduce human disturbance and predation on nesting beaches. A cooperative restoration plan developed by the State of New Jersey, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the National Park Service (NPS), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) included measures such as: the installation of string-and-post "symbolic" fencing to deter beachgoers from nesting areas and predator exclosures around nests; the preparation of educational displays; increased monitoring and wardening of nesting sites by employing beach stewards; and the identification of new nesting areas. Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) were initiated with several coastal municipalities in Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, and Cape May Counties to promote beach management practices compatible with the well-being of nesting piping plovers. The funding resolutions for the piping plover restoration plan allowed the transfer of $679,000 from the B.T. Nautilus settlement to the New Jersey cooperators over a 5-year period between 1995 and 2000.
County or Municipal; Fish and Wildlife Service; National Park Service; State
National Park Service; New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection; The Nature Conservancy
Fish and Wildlife Service; National Park Service
Predator exclosure erected around a piping plover nest at Sandy Hook, NJ., Credit: Steve Luell, NPS
Two recently hatched piping plover chicks huddled with an egg in a nest. Plover chicks are able to walk, run, and forage within hours of hatching., Credit: Steve Luell, NPS
New Jersey Ecological Services Field Office
4 East Jimmie Leeds Road, Suite 4, Galloway, NJ 08205 | (609) 383-3938 | http://www.fws.gov/northeast/njfieldoffice/