Oil Pollution and Its Effect on Wildlife “OIL POLLUTION AND ITS EFFECT ON WILDLIFE” INTRODUCTION: Contamination of the oceans by oil spillage is not a rare occurrence. It is happening all over the world every day, fouling coastlines, killing animals and destroying fisheries. BODY: In 1987, more than 3.5 million tons of oil were released into the oceans around the world. Out of that only 28 percent of the spillage was accidental; the remaining 72 percent was deliberate, illegal actions. The sources of oil spillage were: Washing tanks at sea: A lot of the illegal pollution is caused by cleaning of oil tanks at sea.
After they are cleaned the tankers then dump the polluted water, mixed with all the oil residue, back into the ocean. Oil well blowouts: Blowouts occurring at oil well heads release huge amounts of oil and gas into the ocean. The drilling vessel IXTOTI released more than 400,000 tons of oil into the Gulf of mexico over a period of 9 months after its well exploded in 1978. Tanker accidents: The most publicized of the oil spills are those caused by tanker accidents. There have been hundreds of accidents involving the spilling of million of tons of oil. Big oil spills, no matter what way they occur, reflect on the oil industry badly.
The cleanup cost alone is enormous, and the amount of damages can be into the millions of dollars. Despite the cleanup efforts, once there is an oil spill, it cannot be prevented from causing major damage to wildlife and the environment. EFFECT ON WILDLIFE: All the migrating seabirds like guillemots, puffins, and razorbills are at risk from oil pollution. During migration, they look for calm water where they rest and fish. Oilcovered seas look calm to birds, and they land on the water by thousands, only to be trapped in the oil and die of starvation.
The birds that don’t become trapped usually die as well from trying to remove the oil from their feathers, the birds ingest the oil and that usually kills them in a few days. The oil that washes to shore on the beaches where seals and sea lion breed harm these animals as well, any animals that get caught in the oil usually die. An area that is rich in wildlife is Alaska’s Prince William Sound. When the Exxon Valdez had it’s spill thousands of sea otters died and lot’s more are still at risk. When the oil coats their fur, otters can’t swim or maintain there body temperature, they either freeze to death, or drown.
When a marine animal dies it is usually eaten by other species and then those species get poisoned too. CLEANING UP: Crude oil is complex, it is mixed with more than a 1000 different chemicals. In most seas, the highly toxic light hydrocarbons, which are refined to gasoline and jet fuel, soon evaporate, lower the risk to some marine life. As in the Artic it is freezing and the process of evaporation is slow because of the low temperature. In these conditions the oil must be burned.
In calm waters, floating booms can contain the oil so that it can be pumped off the surface of the sea into holding tanks. They remove what they can and the remaining oil is sprayed with chemicals. These chemicals break down the oil into tiny particles, which than get broken down by bacteria which feed on some of the hydrocarbons in the oil. Yet the residue will eventually end up on the beaches. CONCLUSION: Most of the worst oil pollution is caused by the cleaning of ships oil storage tanks at sea.
If they had stricter policies dealing with this activity this may be avoided. Every year, a large amount of oil is spilled throughout the North Sea through the dumping of petroleum products, both on land and in the sea. A lot of oil is released by sewers and rivers. We can help and reduce oil pollution by returning used motor oil for recycling rather than pouring it down the drain or burying it in the yard.