The Coastal Health District of Georgia serves the counties of Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long & McIntosh

St. Simons Sound Incident

Visit this page for public health updates related to the capsizing of the cargo ship Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound on September 8, 2019.


Current Incident-Related
Advisory Status:


The Coastal Health District is alerting swimmers and recreational fishers that oil may be present on area beaches. Beaches are not closed but beachgoers should stay alert. Swim and fish with caution and avoid contact with oil or oily products on the beach. The public is reminded that the water conditions could change quickly while the cargo carrier remains in the channel. If you see a sheen of oil on the surface of the water, do not swim or fish.

If you step on a tar ball or get oil on your skin, wash off the oil with soap and clean water. There is no need to use harsh detergents, solvents or other chemicals to wash oil from skin or clothing – these could be harmful to you.

If you see a sheen of oil on the surface of the water, get out of the water and report the sheen to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802. Do not swim or fish in an area with a visible oil sheen.

The public advisory status may be lowered or elevated based on new information from responders and results of ongoing water quality tests. Monitor this web page for the latest advisory status, as this page will be updated as the situation changes.

Shellfish Harvesting Beds Reopen

Kayak in oyster bed

Photo: GA Dept. of Natural Resources

The recreational shellfish harvest area in Glynn County south of Downing Musgrove Causeway between Jekyll Island and Brunswick is open to the public once again.

From a GA Dept. of Natural Resources press release:

Mark Williams, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, signed an administrative order Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, to re-open the area in Jointer Creek. The area was previously closed Oct. 3 due to precautionary concerns regarding from the capsized Motor Vessel Golden Ray in the St. Simons Sound.

The re-opening comes after staff with DNR’s Coastal Resources Division surveyed and evaluated the area and observed no sign of visible contamination. The harvest area is also hydrologically isolated from the St. Simons Sound by two major tidal nodes – one in the Intracoastal Waterway and the other in Cedar Creek east of the Sidney Lanier Bridge.

The October closure of the area was made out of an abundance of caution following two significant releases of pollutants from the Golden Ray. At no time were pollutants observed in the shellfish harvest area. There have been no major pollution-related incidents involving the Golden Ray since Sept. 30.

Click here for more information from the Department of Natural Resources Coastal Resources Division.


map of water sampling locations
Click map image for a larger view

About the Water Quality Monitoring Plan

A long-term water quality monitoring plan was developed by state and federal regulators to test water at various locations for the presence of contaminants from the cargo ship.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is overseeing this sampling and testing program. Analytical results will be reviewed by EPD to determine environmental compliance. The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) will evaluate those results to determine if there are any health concerns. DPH will issue swimming and/or fish consumption advisories based on that review.


Additional Public Health Advisory Info: FAQs

Public Health Advisory FAQs

This water quality monitoring program is separate from the regular and ongoing Department of Natural Resources program to test beach water and shellfish for the presence of certain bacteria. For more information on that program, visit our beach water testing page.


Press Release Archive

Yellow graphic text swimming fishing use cautionSwimmers/Fishers Advised of Oil Impacts on Jekyll Island Coastline
Oct. 1, 2019


cargo carrier on its sideCoastal Health District Advises Extra Caution when Swimming, Fishing at Area Beaches
Sept. 30, 2019


Beach Advisory Updated for Jekyll & St. Simons
Sept. 12, 2019


Swimming Advisory Issued for St. Simons and Jekyll Island Beaches After Cargo Ship Capsizes in St. Simons Sound
Sept. 8, 2019


More Information:

For additional public health questions related to the response, contact us toll-free at 1-844-863-0325.

A Unified Command and Joint Information Center have been established for the cargo vessel Golden Ray response and salvage efforts.

The Unified Command consists of the U.S. Coast Guard, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Gallagher Marine Systems. Multiple federal, state, local and partner organizations are assisting in the response.

The response website is www.ssiresponse.com, where media and individuals can subscribe for further updates.