Thursday, 10 February 2011

Oil Spills - Effects

There are various incidents of oil spills everyday however, oil spills in very less amounts do not cause much harm. The problem arises when there are various incidents of oil spills that are on a large proportion, causing the spilling of millions of tons of oil into the seas, rivers and bays. None can forget the Exxon Valdez oil spill that occurred in Alaska, on March 24, 1989. One of the disastrous environmental damage caused by the humans, the Exxon Valdez spilling lead to the release of nearly 40 million liters of oil into the sea! No doubt, the victims of the oil spill were the marine animals that thrived in that area.

Effects of Oil Spills
Oil spills that occur near a coastline, cause more harm than the oil spills that occur into the open sea because marine life habitat is usually more dense in the areas near the coastline than in the middle of the ocean. Oil spills can occur due to various reasons like, careless handling of the oil pipelines spread under the seas, through which the oil is transported to various countries. Also, any sort of accidental or natural disaster leading to damage of the oil storing tankers, barges, pipelines, refineries, etc., can cause oil spills. The oil spill effects on the marine life is decided by the type of oil spilled, location of the oil spilled and the breeding season of the habitat in that area. The main problem with oil is that once it spills, it spreads far and wide in the ocean, thereby increasing the damage. When the marine animals consume the oil spilled in the water, the oil gets into their body and many die due to suffocation and poisonous effects of the oil.

Effects of Oil Spills in the Ocean
Depending on the type of oil, the oil can stick to the body of the fish and marine animals, forming a thick layer. Here is a discussion about oil spill effects on marine life:
  • Damage to the feathers of the bird, destroying their beneficial properties.
  • Fur seals get affected by oil spills, as the oil sticks to their fur. Whales and dolphins remain safe from any external affects, as their slippery body does not allow the oil to stick.
  • Drowning of marine animals if the oil sticks on the flipper is observed.
  • Ulcers and other internal problems in the body leading to diseases and death.
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss problems in birds, wildlife and marine life.
  • Problems of the digestive system leading to fragile body.
  • A sense of alienation among the community members, as the smelling ability of the seals and other marine animals is lessened or badly affected. This makes them feel lost as they are unable to detect their fellow beings.
  • Reduces the bird's ability to fly, as the feathers get tangled in dense mass of thick layers of oils.
Oil Spill Effects on the Environment
Oil spill effects on the environment are as follows:
  • Damages the red blood cells and hinders the smooth blood circulation in animals.
  • Liver failure in marine mammals.
  • Damage to fish larvae and young fish.
  • Poisoning of young ones of the marine animals, as they consume mother's milk.
  • Destruction of coral reefs, seagrass and mangrove habitat, that are the major sources of ecological balance in the oceans.
  • Respiratory problems and skin irritation leading to aggressive or dull behavior of the animals.
You may read more on:It is a fact that oil is one of the precious commodities and driving force of the global economy, but it is equally harmful for the marine animals and wildlife, in case they come in contact with it. The oil transportation methods and the safety measures employed while doing so must be strengthened, in order safeguard the precious marine life. While we can't thrive without oil, we are also responsible for maintaining the ecology. The world community should come together to combat these types of incidents and provide safety for the wildlife.