A commercial barge dumped close to 168,000 gallons of oil into a Texas bay after one of its tanks ruptured Saturday.

The ship was towed to a safe area and Coast Guard officials say the leak is contained, but a spokesman for Texas' General Land Office described the oil as "sticky, gooey, thick, tarry stuff. That stuff is terrible to have to clean up."

Authorities say the spill, though small in comparison to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, poses a significant ecological and economic threat and has already been detected in the Gulf of Mexico.

Officials said they had scattered reports of wildlife damage but no specifics. Some black tar-like globs, along with a dark line of a sticky, oily substance, could be detected along the shoreline of the Texas City dike, a 5-mile-long jetty that juts into Galveston Bay across from a tip of Galveston Island.

The spill also occurred along a major shipping route, which shut down on Friday to allow crews to pump some of the oil out of the water. As of Sunday, close to 90 ships were affected.

[image via AP]