An oil spill is the release of oil to the environment which may either be intentional or accidental, and it is a form of pollution. Oil spillage on water bodies has adverse effects on marine life. There are diverse aquatic habitats. They differ in terms of their level of sensitivities to the harmful effects of oil contamination, and in their abilities to recover after oil spillage. Oil spillage in aquatic environments results in floating oil on the water bodies, which in turn blocks out sunlight. The food that most of the marine life depends on, such as Phytoplankton and seaweed do not thrive without sunlight. These cause reduced source of food leading to starvation among a large percentage of the marine life.
Large water mammals such as the whales have their blow holes blocked which leads to death. Oil spillage in an aquatic environment does not only affect the life in the water but also the life above the water. Sea birds that may come into contact with the polluted water may be covered with oil; this inhibits their ability to fly. Also, in an effort to clean their feathers, they may consume the oil which is fatal. In addition, animals with fur and feathers may freeze due to the damage of their protective covers (Fominyen, 2010).
The deep-water spill also known as the Gulf oil spill is identified as the worst oil spill in the United States’ history. By the time deep-water horizon oil rig sank and exploded on April 20, 2010. There had been BP pipe leakage of oil and gas on the floor of the ocean located approximately 42 miles off the coast of Louisiana. An estimate of 4.9 million barrels of oil had leaked into the gulf by July 15, 2010 when the capping of the well was in the process. This was more than 185 million gallons of oil spill (Smithsonian Institution, 2010). The Gulf oil spill had adverse results; hundreds of miles of shoreline covered with oil, thousands of square miles of Gulf waters closed to fishing, and massive deaths of marine life. The contamination caused by this oil spill in the ecosystem may remain unpredictable for years to come.
The Gulf oil spill was three times greater than the Exxon Valdez spill. The Exxon Valdez oil spill had been considered the largest in the history of United States before the Gulf oil spill. The Exxon Valdez spill occurred on March 24, 1989 when tanker Exxon Valdez ruptured its hull thereby spilling around 11 million gallons of crude oil into a productive body of water. The oil spread over vast areas of Prince William Sound of Alaska and to other areas in the months that followed.
The Santa Barbara oil spill was another disaster that happened to have been the largest in the waters of California. It occurred on January 29, 1969 when a Union Co. platform suffered a blow out near the Santa Barbara city in Southern California. Approximately 80, 000 to 100, 000 barrels were released in a period of eleven days. From the assessment of the previously mentioned serious oil spills, it is vivid that the Gulf Oil spill was the worst in terms of extensive effect and volumes of oil spilled into the environment. This research is vital because it shows in depth the nature and effects caused by the Gulf oil spill in comparison to some of other oil spills in the history of the United States.
The Gulf oil spill
The Gulf oil spill and explosion was also known as BP oil spill or Deep-water Horizon oil spill or Macondo blowout. It occurred on 20th April 2010, and was the largest offshore spill in the United States’ history. The Deep Water Horizon, which was a Transocean deep sea drilling rig, was working for British petroleum on the Macondo prospect in the Gulf of Mexico. The Deep Water Horizon caught fire and burned fiercely for 36 hours. It later sank in the water. The fire was visible from a distance of 35 miles when it was at its height, and the flames were 200-300 feet. Eleven of the oil rig workers died and several others injured.