Pictured: Rena's bow section fractured on October 18 after 13 days on the Astrolabe Reef. Photo: Maritime New Zeland

AUCKLAND—A stranded cargo vessel off the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island has spilled more oil into the ocean, as efforts to pump the remaining oil off the ship are hampered by bad weather, Maritime New Zealand said Tuesday.

“A small amount of oil was released from the bow of Rena this morning,” it said in a statement. “A light sheen of oil has been observed moving out to sea with the prevailing wind.”

Pictured: The extent of the oil sheen on October 18. Click for higher resolution Photo: Maritime New Zealand

The pumping of oil off the vessel was suspended late Monday evening due to poor weather and wouldn’t begin again until conditions improve, Maritime New Zealand said.

The MV Rena cargo vessel struck the Astrolabe Reef Oct. 5 on its way to Tauranga, and oil leaks were detected soon after. Salvagers moved in the following day and began pumping oil onto a bunker barge, the Awanuia, late on Sunday, but bad weather hampered the operation. A total of 90 tons of oil have so far been pumped off the vessel onto the Awanuia.

A stress fracture to the hull of the 21-year-old Rena, which triggered fears the boat may break in two, is making efforts to remove oil and more than 1,000 containers off the boat difficult.

“The ship remains in a similar condition to what it was [Monday]—with cracks down each side—but is still held together through its internal structure. However, we are continuing to keep a close eye on the situation,” Maritime New Zealand Salvage Unit Manager Andrew Berry said.

Volunteer beach clean-ups were canceled earlier on Tuesday due to the poor weather and the fact that the beaches were virtually clear of oil, but work continues to protect wildlife in the area, particularly the dotterel, an endangered New Zealand bird.

“We have now caught 46 dotterels but we’re hoping to capture 60 to ensure the sustainability of this population,” Wildlife Field Operations Coordinator Brent Stephenson said.

(c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

CLICK HERE M/V FOR RENA GROUNDING PHOTOS

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