Oil and Marine Ecosystem

Topics: Petroleum, Oil spill, Mediterranean Sea Pages: 7 (2104 words) Published: July 19, 2013
Oil Spills and Marine Ecosystem

Introduction – Oil spills are the harmful release of oil into the environment, usually in the water, sometimes killing area flora and fauna. Oil is the most common pollutant in the oceans. More than 3 million metric tons of oil contaminates the sea every year. The majority of oil pollution in the oceans comes from land. Runoff and waste from cities, industry, and rivers carries oil into the ocean. Ships cause about a third of the oil pollution in the oceans when they wash out their tanks or dump their bilge water. It is an unfortunate by-product of the storage and transportation of oil and petroleum is the occasional spill. Oil spills are very difficult to clean up. The kind of oil spill we usually think about is the accidental or intentional release of petroleum products into the environment as result of human activity (drilling, manufacturing, storing, transporting, waste management), that floats on the surface of water bodies as a discrete mass and is carried by the wind, currents and tides. Oil spills can be partially controlled by chemical dispersion, combustion, mechanical containment and adsorption. They have destructive effects on coastal ecosystems. Examples of an oil spill would be things like well blowouts, pipeline breaks, ship collisions or groundings, overfilling of gas tanks and bilge pumping from ships, leaking underground storage tanks, and oil-contaminated water runoff from streets and parking lots during rain storms. Marine oil spill is a serious consequence of off-shore oil drilling and its oceanic transportation. Spill control firms specialize in the prevention, containment and cleanup of industrial oil spills.

An oil spill is the accidental petroleum release into the environment. On land, oil spills are usually localized and thus their impact can be eliminated relatively easily. In contrast, marine oil spills may result in oil pollution over large areas and present serious environmental hazards. The primary source of accidental oil input into seas is associated with oil transportation by tankers and pipelines (about 70%), whereas the contribution of offshore drilling and production activities is minimal (less than 1%). Large and catastrophic spills releasing more than 30,000 tons of oil are relatively rare events and their frequency in recent decades has decreased perceptibly. Yet, such episodes have the potential to cause the most serious ecological risk (primarily for sea birds and mammals) and result in long-term environmental disturbances (mainly in coastal zones) and economic impact on coastal activities (especially on fisheries and mariculture). Oil spills can happen in a number of ways, including the mishandling of oil pipes and tankers. Oil spills affect marine life in a variety of ways, and without intervention on the part of scientists and ecologists, the marine environment may have a slow recovery time. In addition to prominently profiled sources of oil spills and oil slicks, a lot of oil enters the marine environment through day to day human activity. Thus, the main objective of this topic “Oil Spills and Marine Ecosystem” is to create awareness about the disastrous effects of oil spills on marine life and suggest remedies for the same.

Data collection and Analysis
Oil spills can have serious effects on marine life, as highlighted by the photos of dead birds which regularly appear in the news after such an event. Such images fuel the perception of widespread and permanent environmental damage after every spill, and an inevitable loss of marine resources with serious economic repercussions. A science-based appraisal of the effects reveals that whilst damage occurs and may be profound at the level of individual organisms, populations are more resilient and natural recovery processes are capable of repairing the damage and returning the system to normal functions. The first stage on the road to recovery is usually a...
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