Oil Spills

The Environmental Impacts

What are Oil Spills?

An oil spill is caused by the release of oil into the environment, especially marine ecosystems. It is caused by human activity and is a form of pollution.
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So what?

Gulf Tides 2: Sperm Whales, Shrimp, and Uncertainty - BP Drilling Disaster - May 31, 2010

Environmental Impacts

  • affects surface resources and a wide range of subsurface organisms
  • all organisms that are affected are connected in a complex food web that affects humans
  • causes physical damage that impacts wildlife and their habitats
  • the toxicity of oil can poison exposed organisms
  • there are short term and long term effects
  • some organisms may be seriously injured or killed after contact with an oil spill
  • longer lasting effects include freshwater organisms being slowly smothered by oil as is carried by a current
  • marine oil spills do not only affect fish, but also mammal and bird species

What can we do?

  • Sometimes leaving the oil to break down by natural means is the best option
  • However, thicker, more harmful oils are contained and collected with specialized equipment.
  • Detergents are often used to break up the oil and to clean up animals from the ecosystem.
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Prevention

  • New laws are put into place every time an oil spill happens to prevent a similar crisis from happening in the future.
  • The main cause for oil spillage is our dependence on fossil fuels.
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A new, renewable energy source is ideal for prevention.