How do oil spills affect the environment?
Marine pollution today comes in various forms – chemical, industrial and agricultural – and pollution sources are endless. In recent history, we have seen many oil spills, untreated sewage, eutrophication, invasive species, heavy metals, acidification, radioactive substances, marine litter and overfishing, among others. Although marine pollution has long been an issue, it has only recently exploded into environmental, economic and policy debate advisers. Scientists and non-scientists alike continue to be very shocked and dismayed by the sheer variety of water pollutants and the many ways in which they can harm our environment and our bodies.
Monitoring of chemical and plastic pollution in the oceans has been going on for decades. One approach is to measure the discharges directly.
One approach is to directly measure discharges of pollutants such as plastic waste into the oceans from land-based sources and tabulate the number and frequency of discharge events such as oil spills. From the auspices of the Horizon 2020 initiative for a cleaner Mediterranean, the European Environment Agency and UNEP-map defined.
Marine pollution has been studied by the following impact groups: harm to living resources, a risk to human health, reduction of amenity and harm to other sea users. This paper is mainly concerned with the first two categories and their interrelationship. Apart from some seabirds affected by oil, marine animals’ main stocks show no evidence of reduction due to pollution. Pollution effects are generally insignificant relative to other factors determining reproductive success, survival, growth and population size. Even in the North Sea, which has experienced greatly increased pollution loads over the past three decades, both total fish production and catches per unit effort (a measure of abundance) of cod, haddock and plaice increased over the 20 years 1950-69.
Marine mining in the deep sea is another source of marine pollution. Marine mines drilling for silver, gold, copper, cobalt and zinc create sulphide deposits up to three and a half thousand metres deep in the sea. Although we have not yet gathered scientific evidence to explain the harsh environmental impacts of deep-sea mining fully, we have a general idea that deep-sea mining causes damage to the lowest levels of the ocean and increases the region’s toxicity. This permanent damage also causes leaks, corrosion and oil spills that only further drastically affect the region’s ecosystem.
Are oil spills toxic to humans?
But it is not only oil spills that pollute our oceans. The other main causes of ocean pollution are:
Discharges and runoff: We dump millions of pounds of untreated sewage, rubbish and toxic waste into our rivers. But industrial and agricultural waste and pollution from mining and simple urban runoff from roads and highways also enter our fresh waterways. These rivers, streams, and sewage eventually end up in the ocean, full of pollutants and hazardous waste.
Pollution from ships is a huge source of ocean pollution, the most devastating of which is oil pollution. Crude oil remains in the ocean for years and is extremely toxic to marine life, often suffocating when caught in it. Crude oil is also unfortunately complicated to clean up, which means that once it is separated, it usually stays forever.
The main negative effects of oil on marsh vegetation depend on the type of oil (constituents, viscosity), the amount of oil, the amount of plant cover, the depth of penetration of the oil into marsh sediments, the time of year, and the nature and effectiveness of any clean-up or remedial measures (discussed by Webb, 1996; pezeshki et al., 2000) ( Table 5-3 ). Lighter and more refined oils, such as No. 2 fuel oil, are extremely toxic to smooth cotton grass (Spartina alterniflora). Crude oils and heavy fuel oils generally have the same effects on plants, i.e.
Marine Pollution: Sources, Fate and Effects of Pollutants in Coastal Ecosystems summarises the theoretical background on common and emerging marine pollutants and their effects on organisms (ecotoxicology).
Effects of Ocean and Coastal Acidification on Ecosystems
Take a moment to consider the diversity of life in the sea. Marine life is of course very diverse, and increased acidity can harm or help individual plant and animal species in many different ways. It may well not be obvious to us at first glance, but some organisms are likely to be more abundant, others less so. For example, seagrasses may grow faster when more dissolved carbon dioxide is available, while oysters may decrease in number as fewer larvae complete their life cycle due to increased acidity. In this way, scientists expect ocean and coastal acidification to affect entire ecosystems.
Pollution from a variety of sources is badly choking our oceans. An estimated 80 percent of marine pollution originates on land. Growing populations in coastal regions increase the pollution pressure on coastal and marine ecosystems. Nutrient pollution elements come from a variety of sources, including agricultural runoff and sewage discharges. It overloads the marine environment with high concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients that can lead to large algal blooms. The decomposition of these algae after they die consumes oxygen. This leads to hypoxic or oxygen-depleted “dead zones” where fish and other marine life cannot thrive.
The ocean makes up 71% of our planet. It provides many services to human communities, from mitigating weather extremes to produce everything including the oxygen we breathe daily, from producing the food we eat to storing the excess carbon dioxide we also generate. the effects of increasing greenhouse gas emissions seriously threaten coastal and marine ecosystems through changes in ocean temperature and constantly melting ice, affecting ocean currents, weather patterns, and sea levels. As the ocean’s capacity as a carbon sink has been exceeded, its chemistry is also changing due to our carbon emissions.
Plastic pollution is recognized as a serious anthropogenic problem in coastal and marine ecosystems around the world. The unprecedented and continuous accumulation of growing plastic pollution in respective aquatic ecosystems by anthropogenic sources is directly and/or indirectly disrupting ecosystem structure, functions and consequently services and values. Land-based and ocean-based sources are the primary sources of these contaminants, which enter the ocean in various ways. This review focuses on highlighting different aspects related to plastic pollution in coastal and marine environments. Plastic pollution is distributed in ecosystems in different forms, with different size variations as metaplastic, macroplastics, mesoplastics and microplastics.
Threats to Marine Environment You Must Know
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has probably been present for millions or billions of years in marine microbial communities due to resistance mechanisms that bacteria have evolved in response to natural threats.
More recently, the prevalence of Amr has increased in marine environments, particularly in coastal waters.
This increase seems to reflect the increasing introduction of allochthonous sources from the land.
The detrimental effects of plastic litter on the marine environment were reviewed by collating much of the literature on the subject. Many marine species are known to be harmed and/or killed by plastic waste, which could threaten their survival, especially as many of them are already threatened by other forms of anthropogenic activities. Marine animals are mostly affected by entanglement in and ingestion of plastic waste. Other lesser-known threats include the use of plastic waste by “invasive” species and the ingestion of polychlorinated biphenyls from ingested plastic.
There are so many problems and threats caused directly or caused directly or indirectly by marine litter, including environmental, social and economic impacts.
Economic impacts. These impacts are diverse, usually interconnected and are therefore more difficult to mitigate separately. Nevertheless, our overall understanding of these problems is limited in some areas, particularly the indirect and socio-economic impacts (Mouat et al., 2010). An example of this is the different impacts of ghost fishing that lead to economic losses.
How do oil spills affect society?
The increasing pollution of the oceans due to anthropogenic activities is harming the sustainability of marine ecosystems. The literature reviewed suggests that airborne and spaceborne sensors provide holistic information for monitoring many of the major marine pollutants. These include oil and chemical spills, sewage, high suspended sediment concentrations, and algal blooms. Solid waste deposited in coastal areas can also be mapped using similar geospatial technology. However, there are some technical limitations to evaluating detailed information on pollutants. These limitations arise from their dynamic nature, limited information on the pollutants’ specific spectral response, substrate response in optically shallow waters, and the complex physics of light interaction through the water column.
The world has been completely rocked by a series of oil spills, including the Exxon Valdez, the Deepwater Horizon, and the Ixtoc 1. These oil spills have had devastating effects on the marine environment that have lasted for decades. The ss Torrey canyon, one of the first oil spills to attract global attention, caused a huge disaster off the coast of Cornwall, England, in 1967. A massive 25-36 million gallons of crude oil spilled into international waters, affecting hundreds of miles of coastline in the UK and France.
The Pew Charitable Trusts
The Deepwater Horizon disaster threatened the ecosystem along the US Gulf Coast. Most of the oil spills have occurred at the ocean surface. This oil spill, which originates on the seabed and rises through the water column, can affect the marine environment at all levels. For more on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, see our article on the Gulf of Mexico.
In marine oil spills, the first creatures to come into contact with the oil are marine life, including the various species of fish. Apart from the impact on coastal fisheries and fishing, exposure to oil spills can negatively affect the health of marine life. The adverse effects on marine life refer to the accumulation of persistent and bioaccumulative components of the oil in the tissues and bodies of marine organisms (fish) with the potential to cause a variety of health and reproductive problems and mass mortalities in marine organisms in general.
How do oil spills affect the economy?
Estuaries are vulnerable to oil exposure in many areas because petrochemical industries are located in the coastal zone. Oil products are transported either by ship or via pipelines that pass either near or through estuaries. Spills or operational discharges can potentially cause damage to intertidal vegetation-rich habitats, including salt marshes and mangroves. These vegetation types may occur individually or in combination. Oil spills are known to cause serious and long-term damage to mangrove and salt marsh ecosystems
Marine animals can and will become entangled in marine debris or accidentally swallow it. Animals such as seabirds, porpoises, sea turtles, whales and invertebrates can be affected by oil spills and other sea chemicals.
Oil is at the heart of our modern economy, providing a cheap source of energy and serving as a raw material for the manufacture of plastics. It is a mixture of hydrocarbons and up to 25% non-hydrocarbons such as sulfur, vanadium, and metals. The impacts occur at all stages of oil and gas exploration and exploitation. They result from prospecting activities (including seismic), physical impacts from rig installation, operational discharges at the start of production, accidental and routine spills, and finally, combustion. Nihoul and Durotomy (1994) have estimated the oil input to the North Sea attributable to the offshore industry at 29 % of the total oil input.
Major Effects of Oil Spills on Marine Ecosystems
Oil spills continue to pose a serious threat to marine ecosystems, despite the stricter environmental regulations that have been enacted in most countries. The majority of oil spills are small (i.e. less than 7 tonnes). Data on numbers and quantities are incomplete; however, they represent a relatively small proportion of the total oil released into the marine environment through tanker spills. In the period from 1970 to 2009, more than 5.65 million tonnes of oil entered the sea due to tanker spills.
The risk and consequences of any oil spills are probably the biggest environmental problem associated with offshore oil and gas production. While most oil enters the oceans possibly unseen, massive oil spills highlight the catastrophic impact oil will have on marine wildlife and human communities. In 2180, there was only one major Deepwater blowout, the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico, which exploded catastrophically in 2010. There haven’t been any major well blowouts in New Zealand, however, the risks could increase as oil and gas activities expand.
Offshore oil spills can cause major damage to many components of natural ecosystems. Some of the most noticeable effects of oil spills are seen in larger wildlife species such as marine mammals and seabirds. Marine and coastal animals exposed to oil suffer immediate health problems and long-term changes in their physiology and behaviour. In small doses, oil can cause temporary physical damage to animals. These may include skin irritation, changes in the immune system, reproductive or developmental damage and liver disease. When large amounts of oil enter a water body, chronic effects such as cancer become more likely, and wildlife’s direct mortality can be widespread.
Many of the ecosystems most commonly affected by marine oil spills are accustomed to natural disturbance under normal conditions. For example, shallow coral reefs are among the most dynamic environments, often subject to typhoons and tsunamis’ intense forces. Disturbances of this kind typically create space for new organisms to settle and grow. Over time, natural processes repair the damage caused by such events and return an ecosystem to its former functions, even though it may consist of other individual organisms. Natural restoration processes are also important in cleaning up the effects of oil spills.
Impact on Marine Animals
Offshore drilling by oil and gas organizations causes several additional problems. Not only are they a source of noise pollution, but they are also the cause of oil spills, of which there are thousands in the US every year. When oil spills occur, the damage to the water and marine life is devastating. The effects of an oil spill can last for decades. Even clean-up operations remove only a small portion of the oil, and the techniques used often involve even more dangerous chemicals. Chemicals from drilling operations can damage animals’ organs, such as marine mammals, that come into contact with them.
The following discussion is adapted from information about marine debris on the California Coastal Commission website. Marine debris could also be referred to as “plastic trash” as this more accurately describes the nature of most of the material. Millions of Americans enjoy the nation’s coasts and waterways every day. However, many of these people are unaware of how their daily activities – from driving their cars to not properly disposing of their trash to throwing away a cigarette butt – can impact the plants and animals off our coasts.
Marine litter negatively impacts all the reef values – its beauty, its rich biodiversity, its extensive natural habitats, its historical heritage and the cultural values of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Marine litter kills marine life. It can smother coral, become entangled in wildlife or be swallowed by animals. All sea turtles species, more than half of all known species of marine mammals such as dolphins and whales, and seabirds are negatively affected by marine litter. Plastic waste also has potentially toxic effects on animals, caused by chemicals in the plastic leaching out after consumption.
The Ocean Conservancy estimates that more than 690 species of marine life are affected by plastic pollution. To reduce the impact of all this waste, some businesses have developed alternatives. Delray Beach Craft Brewery in Florida has developed edible six-pack rings made from wheat and barley left over from the brewing process. It hopes to start production in October.
The lack of concerted and definitive scientific data/research on this issue is staggering compared to the scale of the problem. It was not until 1997, with the discovery of Captain Charles Moore, that marine plastic pollution was widely addressed in the media and finally received more attention from the public and the scientific world, paving the way for more comprehensive research on plastic and its consequences and impacts when it enters marine life.
Coastal areas are increasingly impacted by human activities, with marine pollution and climate change among the most important pressures affecting these environments. Human-induced pressures occur cumulatively and produce additive, antagonistic or synergistic effects. Knowledge of synergistic effects is crucial [. ] read more. Coastal areas are increasingly busy and affected by human activities; marine pollution and climate change are among the most important pressures affecting these environments. Human-induced pressures occur cumulatively and produce additive, antagonistic or synergistic effects. Knowledge of synergistic effects is crucial for coastal zone management. They may imply changes in these systems’ human use and specific action plans to reduce hazards and environmental risks.
The oceans are the largest areas of water on planet Earth. In recent decades, excessive human activities have severely affected life in the Earth’s oceans. Pollution of the oceans, also known as marine pollution, is the spread of many harmful substances such as oil, plastics, industrial and agricultural waste and chemical particles. The oceans are of course home to an enormous variety of marine animals and plants, every citizen’s responsibility is to do their part to keep these oceans clean so that marine life can thrive for a long time to come.
Ocean pollution is a growing problem in today’s world. Our ocean is inundated with two main types of pollution: chemicals and rubbish. Chemical pollution or nutrient pollution is of concern for health in general, and environmental and economic reasons. This type of pollution occurs from our human activities, particularly the use of fertilisers in agriculture, resulting in the runoff of chemicals into waterways that eventually flow into the ocean. The increased concentration of chemicals, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, promotes the growth of algal blooms that can be toxic to wildlife and harmful to humans in the coastal ocean.