Free «Ecosystems» Essay Paper


Spilling of oil in the oceans can be defined as an unintentional discharge of liquid fuel hydrocarbon into the environment due to human activity. The oil spill is a form of contamination that has overwhelming effects on the surroundings (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], 2002). The term oil spill is used in reference to oceanic oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean and shoreline waters. The occurrence of events of oil spills in modern times has gone down distinctively. This took a diverse turn after experiencing the worsening of the situation that led to the BP oil spill or the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Oil spills can cause stern environmental hazards to marine birds and animals. This results in the extended period of environmental troubles that befall the coastal regions. Oil spills in the oceans also have an influence on the commercial undertakings of the people that depend on the marine poultry for a living (NOAA, 2008). This research paper seeks to discuss the overall impact of oil spills on beaches, deep sea, and photic zones. It also outlines the amount of the risk caused by the oil spill, describes the affected sea lives, and considers its effect on economic and environmental setup. The paper also shows the types of surveys conducted to gather the data on the intensity of oil spills in the oceans.

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The Level of Threat

Oil spills in the sea cause both instant and long-term harm to the surroundings. Some of the harms that oil spills cause on the surroundings can last for years after the spill happens. There are several notable impacts caused by oil spills on the surroundings. Severe impacts that oil has on the beaches or shorelines are the highly observable parts of an oil spill, which makes it hard for the sea plants and marine animals to survive, thus affecting marine parks and tourism at large (NOAA, 2002). Lest an intensive effort to purify the shoreline is made, the oil ultimately stays on the coastline until the stern measures are put in place to drain the oil, which costs a lot of money. Otherwise, the weather and the time destroy the oil, but this procedure is exceedingly time-consuming (NOAA, 2011). The slushy mass that creates an oil glib will mess the shore with an unpleasant black tar, creating a very dangerous effect since the seashore is where the aquatic life is intense. Oceanfront provides a breeding site for fish and other species in the oceanic environment. Hence, by polluting the coastline, the oil imposes a threat and is hazardous to the marine life in the area. All sea animals covered by even slight amounts of oil may be incapable of swimming or flying appropriately, retaining their body temperature, feeding, or even breeding (NOAA, 2008). Oil can also cover coastlines and other important environments, making it hard for marine animals to find the unpolluted nutriment as well as nesting and hiding places.

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Affected Species

Marine animals such as sea otters, whales, and dolphins die when they come in contact with oil spills. The harm done to these creatures can have irrevocable results. The oil slicks block the blow holes of dolphins and whales, making it hard for them to breathe appropriately and also to interconnect efficiently. Oil also covers the coat of otters and seals, leaving them susceptible to hypothermia. If the creatures are able to escape from these instant effects, the oil spill causes destruction to their diet supply by polluting their food (NOAA, 2012). When the animals consume fish that has been killed by the oil spill, they die or experience other complications. Oil spills take a poisonous blow on the fish, shellfish, and any other aquatic species. Sea birds are mostly threatened by oil spills and are considered the most susceptible animals in the open ocean. Any oil spill in the ocean brings a death verdict to the marine birds. Some may move if they sense a threat on time. However, the birds that depend on diving, or those that gather food on the sea water, face the problem of being covered with oil when searching for food. Most of the seabirds die from sinking, hunger, and also from the reduction of body temperature due to the damage of the protective layer of the birds' feathers (NOAA, 2011). Others may die after drinking oil during the efforts to clean themselves.

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Oil spills leave long term harm to animal species, their surroundings, resting and breeding surroundings that these creatures need for their existence. This is one of the utmost disturbing ecological impacts of oil spills. Such creatures as turtles spend most of their time in deep seas, but they always come ashore to lay eggs. Oil spills destroy their eggs, so they fail to brood and also may die if they come in contact with oil (NOAA, 2002).

Economic and Environmental Risks

Oil spills cause a negative impact on the economy of the nation. The effect can vary from losing oil through the cost of un-contaminating the water through its cleaning, and also through the cost of lost production in certain businesses due to the mutilation of coastlines and beaches (NOAA, 2012). The economic risks caused by oil spills include the actual loss of oil from the slick. In case of a bigger slick the costs are much greater. The harm to the sea life caused by the sea oil spills brings about the need for costs spent for cleaning the birds. Fish-related companies incur a lot of losses due to death of fish and difficulty in fishing. Oil spills also destroy beaches, leading to a loss in a touristic sphere in the areas where the coastlines and nearby waters cannot be easily accessed. This, in turn, leads to lesser tourism incomes. Cleaning an oil spill is a costly work, and it takes a substantial financial fee on the firm leaking the oil into the ocean and also its insurance brokers.

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