Oil Spill Disasters: Saving the Victims


As the Santa Barbara and the Deepwater Horizon oil spills showed, there’s no question that marine life suffers when caught in an oil spill. While the long-term effects on animals due to oil pollution are still being researched, we’re thankful for the wildlife responders and volunteers who try to rescue these victims before it’s too late.

There’s no question that the marine life suffers when caught in an oil spill. And while the long-term affects on animals due to oil pollution are still being researched, we’re thankful for the wildlife responders and volunteers who try to rescue these victims before it’s too late.

Between 700,000 to 1,000,000 species call the great blue abyss “home.” This thriving ecosystem, which makes up 71 percent of our planet, is filled with unique creatures from crustaceans to mammals. They face threats from many human activities, including oil spills such as May’s spill off the Southern California coast.

Oil pollution can mean a death sentence for organisms beneath the sea as well as above it. Without the help of wildlife responders, oil-saturated animals would struggle to survive as they fight infection, dehydration, malnourishment and hypothermia. Fortunately, volunteers, veterinarians, biologists and other specialists come together in these situations to help address the catastrophe.

What Is Oil Pollution?

Accidental release of hazardous liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into an ecosystem, especially the ocean, is an oil spill.

Oil has many ways of finding its way into the oceans – it may be leaking from a tanker like theExxon Valdez incident in 1989 or released by a broken offshore pipeline such as in the recentRefugio State Beach incident – and it means a massive outlay of resources to both clean up the water and the animals

“The consequences of what you can’t see are as important as what you can see. You can’t ever get it all out. There are so many nooks and crannies where the oil can hide,” Phyllis Grifman, associate director of the USC Sea Grant Program, told The Guardian.

How Is Marine Life Affected by Oil Pollution?

Marine birds, fish, dolphins, crustaceans, seals and otters are all vulnerable to oil spills. When dolphins surface to breathe, oil-saturated water can cover their blowhole, impair their breathing and enter their lungs. Marine birds may be unable to fly with oil-soaked feathers, so they attempt to clean themselves but end up accidentally swallowing the toxic substance, causing damage to their organs. Dead fish washing ashore are some of the most prolific victims of a large spill.

The recent spill off the coast of Santa Barbara released more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean, resulting in the death of 195 birds and 106 marine mammals. Wildlife responders rescued 57 birds and 62 marine mammals.

The Deepwater Horizon incident of 2010, the largest accidental marine oil spill, released 4.9 million barrels, affecting 8,332 species.

Researchers are still trying to determine if oil can damage marine animals’ long-term health leading to issues with vision, reproduction, digestion and more.

How Can You Help?

Support organizations that are rescuing animals and conducting research on oil pollution.

Decrease your fossil fuel usage by car pooling, taking public transportation or using that bike you always say you’re going to get back on. Being fuel-efficient is a way to make the most of the gasoline and decrease the demand for it. Ensure your car or other motorized machines are not leaking oil. When disposing of old oil, do so properly. Consider eating less meat — carbon emissions from factory farming account for up to 51 percent of global greenhouse gases.

Raise awareness by telling a friend, co-worker or neighbor about the affects of oil pollution and encourage them to seek more information.

Source: Oil Spill Disasters: Saving the Victims | Sport Diver

Posted Saturday, 31 October 2015 by Culebra Snorkeling and Dive Center in Culebra Posts & Reviews

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