Effects of Oil Spills on the Environment
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Oil spill is the release of liquid petroleum which is hydrocarbon into the environment. This is caused by human activity and it causes pollution. Oil spill involves the release of crude oil from the tankers as well as spills of refined petroleum products for example, diesel, gasoline and also the by products .spills can take months or years to clean up. This term, oil spill refers to as the marine spill. This is where oil gets released into the ocean or into the coastal waters .Oil spills can also enter marine environment through natural oil seeps. Presence of the same in the environment gets affected in different ways. For example it affects water and the creatures found in the water.
Oil spill affects water in different ways .When oil gets into the water, it fails to blend with the water but it floats on top of fresh and salted water. Later the oil spreads all through the surface of water .This layer of the oil spill is known as slick. It expands to an extent when the oil layer becomes thin to its extreme end it is known as sheen. Oil spill on the water surface is a subject to the whims of current, waves and weather. This natural force moves the slick across the water surface. The force stirs up the oil slick and also controls the direction in which the slick moves. An oil spill near the shore can be controlled by the wave actions and currents. This makes the oil to go ashore and this damages marine shoreline habitats.
When oil floats on the surface of the water, any marine animal that is in the center of the slick ingests oil. Even though there was a mammal some miles way and it happens to eat a fish that had swam through the slick it gets poisoned. The marine and the coastal life gets contaminated in various ways, this is through poisoning from ingestions and also direct contact with the oil and destructions’ of the habitat. Ingesting of oil causes various problems, one of them is death .If an animal ingests food that was saturated with oil the animal become ill to an extent of dying. Animal such as fish, when they ingest oil through their gills their ability to reproduce gets affected.
In habitat destructions this is visible on the shore and beneath the water where there is a delicate balance between shallow water habitats and reefs. The plankton and the smallest organisms get affected by the spills and this effect affects the food chain. When there is a direct contact with the oil among the animals, the featured animals becomes an able to repel water and thus they get weighed down thus they are un able to fly due to oil which is in their features thus it is possible for them to die. As some of the birds try to clean their features they happen to ingest a lot of oil and this make them to die easily. The fur of marine mammal acts as an insulator against cold. When the fur gets insulated with oil, the ability to insulate against cold gets ruined and this makes the mammals to die as a result of coldness.
Oil also affects wildlife by coating the bodies with a thick layer. Oil also becomes sticker over some time and this adheres to the animals with time. This is because the oil floats on the surface of the water. The oil spill to the marine mammals and sea birds makes these animals to have some problems. These are, birds lose the body weight when their metabolism is trying to combat the low body temperature. Birds also become dehydrated and this can make them to starve when they give up drinking, diving and swimming to look for food. They also become prey since they are unable to fly because their features are matted by oil. Marine mammals also become prey since they are unable to escape from their predators since their fur gets stuck together.
They also lose body weight due to lack of food since they would not feed on the contaminated food. The animals also die due to the inflammations in the dugongs and this makes it difficult to eat since the oil has stuck around the sensory hairs and mouth. Oil spills also damages animals and birds bodies by causing them to suffer from ulcers if they happen to ingest the oil. Even though the marine mammals happens escape the immediate effect, the oil spill can also cause damage by contaminating the food supply. Those marine mammals that ea t fish or any other food that happens to be exposed to any oil spill may get poisoned by the oil die or even experience other problems.
If an oil slick reaches the beach, it coats and clings to all the rocks and grain of sand. When this oil washes the coastal marshes and the mangrove forests or the wetlands, the grasses and the fibrous plants absorb the oil which later damages the plants and makes the whole area unsuitable for wildlife to live in. Long-term damage to the various species, their habitats and their nests or the bleeding grounds that the species depends for their survivals happens to be the most environmental effect that is caused by oil spills. Many species that spend most of their lives in the sea such as sea turtles are harmed by the oil they encounter as they lay eggs at the beach or in the water. The eggs that are laid can fail to develop properly because they get damaged by the oil. The hatched young turtles can also get oiled as they try to scurry to the ocean on an oily beach.
Eventually, the severity of environmental destructions caused by a exacting oil spill depends on various factors, this involves the amount of the oil that is spilled, the weight and type of the oil, the position of the spill, the species of wildlife in the region, the timing or reproduction cycles and seasonal migrations, and also the weather found at the sea throughout and immediately after the oil spillage. Since one thing never varies: oil spills are always bad news for the environment.
Since oil and oil products in the environment causes harm, there is a way for one to prevent this problem when it is possible an example being by not dumping oil and also oily wastes into the sewer or in the garbage. This will help great deal to avoid polluting the environment that we are living in. Sometimes, it is possible to find ways of avoiding using oil in the first place: this can be done by bicycling, walk, or take a bus instead of taking a car to some of the places we need to go. It is good to understand that this is because we rely on oil and that’s’ why we run the risks of oil spills. That means that every one of us shares the responsibility of creating the problem of oil spills and responsibility of finding ways that can help us to solve the problem.