On August 10, 1993 the tank barge Ocean 225 and the tank barge B-155 collided with the freighter Balsa 37 near the entrance of Tampa Bay, Florida. The Ocean 255 caught fire upon impact and burned for 18 hours. During that period, approximately 32,000 gallons of Jet A fuel, diesel, and gasoline discharged into lower Tampa Bay from the Ocean 255. The 442-foot B-155 was also damaged by the collision and discharged 330,000 gallons of #6 fuel oil in the same vicinity. The resulting discharge caused injury to birds, sea turtles, mangroves, salt marshes, sea grasses, bottom sediments, water column biota, shellfish beds, and sand beaches and also resulted in lost recreational use of sand beaches, waterways, and shell fishing areas.
Since 1993, the trustees conducted injury assessment activities and prepared a Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan (DARP Volume I) for lost ecological services, which was finalized in June 1997. The Tampa Bay oil spill affected habitats immediately offshore of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge as well as inlets and passes along the shore to the north. Emergency restoration was accomplished to address injuries to the shoreline of Eleanor Island, near John's Pass. Oiling of the island's mangroves and oyster reefs affected the structural integrity of the island. Emergency restoration required the removal of stranded oil mats from the upper intertidal zone and replacement with clean oyster shell. Construction was completed in March 1996 and after a six-month monitoring period, was found to have met the objectives and goals of the restoration. Other restoration projects continue to be implemented.