Marine Oil Spills Essay

1244 words - 5 pages

The United States Environmental Protection Agency reports that “almost 14,000 thousand oil spills are reported each year” (“Response”). Hence, it is clear that as the world continues to use this powerful, non-renewable resource more and more, accidents are very possible at any time. Moreover, oil spills damage the planet and society in numerous ways. As a result of marine oil spills, the organisms, the environments, and the economy suffer.
Firstly, many organisms take damage when it comes to oil spills. However, some scientists argue that while there is definitely damage at the individual level, most populations are able to survive and continue to live in the area (“Effects of Oil Spills”). Populations, in general, are robust enough to survive most precarious situations. The effects the oil has on living things are classified as either lethal or nonlethal (“Life”). Although the nonlethal effects may not kill the organism directly, it may lead to the organism not being able to protect itself from predators. The animals that are the most affected by the oil include sea birds, sea otters, sea turtles, and fishes (“Oil Spills”). For sea otters and sea birds, the oil is dangerous because of its ability to coat these animals’ fur and feathers. The oil coating is threatening because it can lead to the animals not being able to control their own body temperature, which eventually can lead to hypothermia (“Oil Spills”). The oil can physically prevent these animals from executing homeostasis. Sea turtles do not instinctively avoid the oil and the water, and they sometimes ingest the oil when they come up to breathe (Patin). All turtles need to breath, but in an oil spill, they end up consuming the oil that remains on the surface. From previous oil spills, studies have shown that fish who have been exposed to oil have problems with their gills and reproductive organs (“Effects of Oil Spills”). When the oil gets into their reproductive and respiratory systems, the oil severely alters their organs. However, no matter the species, most young animals will have a hard time handling the oil (“Gulf”). This occurs simply because these animals are not yet fully developed .
Along with animals, plants are also affected by oil spills. Also, some plants are greatly affected whereas others are able to carry on without a problem. Red algae, mangrove trees, and shoreline plants have all shown negative impacts from previous oil spills (“Effects of Oil Spills”). Healthy plants are necessary for a stable environment, so anytime a plant is damaged, it can cause unfavorable conditions for other organisms. For example, red algae, which is found in coral reefs, has been found dead and decaying after exposure to oil (“Effects of Oil Spills”). Coral reefs around the world are home to very diverse organisms, and the destruction of the the actual coral and algae could have lasting impacts. Similarly, mangrove trees in mangrove swamps, have died after being...

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