Following the accident of the oil tanker ‘Prestige’, we surveyed the large scale fuel deposition patterns on the Cantabrian shore (northern Spain) covering three regions (from west to east): (i) Asturias, west of Cape Peñas (24 segments surveyed); (ii) Asturias, east of Cape Peñas (33 segments surveyed); and (iii) Cantabria (also east of Cape Peñas, 256 segments surveyed). Fuel arrived to the Cantabrian Coast as a single oil wave which was more intense to the east than to the west of Cape Peñas. The mean percentage of coast length affected was 25, 41 and 15% in western Asturias, eastern Asturias and Cantabria, respectively. However, less than 10% of the substrate was covered by fuel in oiled patches, thus the impact was moderate. We conclude that these patterns are consistent with fuel transport by the Iberian Poleward Current, a hydrographic feature typical of this region during winter.