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Oil Spills: Effect On Wildlife Essay

1193 words - 5 pages

Almost every year ocean wildlife, birds and other animals are killed or seriously injured due to tanker ship oil spills that could be prevented. Oil spills happen mainly due to captain and crew errors. As they travel across the ocean they become careless, non-observant, and make simple mistakes that cost millions of dollars as well as the lives and habitats of animals in the area and farther. Although, there are many other reasons for oil spills such as weather conditions, illegal dumping, countries at war or terrorists attempting to get a countries attention. There are other ways of transporting oil without having the chance of a spill causing the destruction of ecosystems, such as, by train or pipelines. The most recent oil spill took place March 29, 2013, when a pipeline ruptured from the Athabasca oil sands in Mayflower, Arkansas, about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock. It was reported that 5,000−7,000 barrels of oil were spilled. This spill proves that even today there are still very harsh oil spills happening across the world and that there is no perfect or real efficient way to safely transport oil.

Oil coated beaches, dead and dying wildlife, damaged fisheries, contaminated
water supplies, dying plants and organisms. These are the short-term effects of an oil
spill. The long-term effects are much worse and deathly. Oil is capable of building up in the food chain to lethal levels, and destroying or disrupting an area's ecosystem. Seabirds including puffins, shearwaters, razorbills, and many more are frequently affected by offshore oil spills. These birds live mainly on open water, however; they can also become oiled in coastal waters since they come to coastal islands to breed. Spills can also severely harm turtle eggs and damage fish larvae, causing deformities and deaths. Shellfish and corals are particularly at risk since they can't escape. Oil spills are also responsible for tainting algae, which perform a vital role in waterway ecosystems. If a spill isn't contained quickly, oil can lie beneath the surface of beaches and the sea, severely affecting marine organisms that burrow, such as crabs, for decades. Since these burrowing creatures are a food source for other animals, the cycle of poisoning can continue for many years. Because of toxicity of oil and the difficulty cleaning a spill it would take ecosystem years to return back to normal. In the meantime plants, animals, and organisms will suffer and most of them will die. When oil spills into oceans and lakes it can cause hypothermia and drowning of birds because the oil breaks down the insulating capabilities of their feathers, making them heavier which then compromises their flying ability. It can also cause hypothermia in seal pups and otters as the oil destroys their insulating fur. Birds and other animals often ingest oil when trying to clean themselves which can poison them and create toxins in their immune systems causing them to become severely ill.

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