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Cruise, shipping companies admit dumping at sea

November 10, 1997

MIAMI (AP) _ A cruise ship operator and a ship owner agreed Monday to pay $500,000 to settle charges of dumping trash and oil in the ocean.

The money will go toward cleaning up oil spills, restoring coral reefs, protecting wildlife and educating people about the dangers of littering at sea.

Ulysses Cruises Inc., operator of the former Dolphin Cruise Line, pleaded guilty to dumping oil and plastics. Seaway Maritime Co., which leased a ship to Ulysses, admitted to oil dumping.

Plastic bags of garbage were thrown overboard off the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico at 3 a.m. in 1992 and 1993. A passenger on deck and a trombone player aboard the cruise line spotted the dumping.

Oily bilge water was dumped from cruise ships in 1994 and 1996 off the Florida Keys and near the Port of Miami. The oil was spotted from a Coast Guard helicopter.

``Some people just don’t know and they don’t understand the consequences of what seems like a relatively minor act of throwing a six-pack ring over the side,″ said Charlie Wahle, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine sanctuary program. ``What we hope to do is educate them about the impact of what they’re doing.″

The Coast Guard estimates more than 1 million birds and 100,000 marine mammals die each year from eating or getting tangled in plastic debris.

Birds and turtles can strangle, starve or get infections from six-pack plastic rings that get stuck around their necks. Sea animals also mistake plastic bags for jellyfish and swallow them.

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