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Examine the Effects of Oil Spill on Marine Animals (Essay Sample)


The task majorly involved the discussion of effects of oil spill as an anthropogenic factor on marine animals in specific.

ADM NO. : I114/3248/2012.
TASK : Examine the effects of oil spill on marine animals.
DATE : 7TH MARCH 2015.
Oil can harm living things because its chemical constituents are poisonous and hence dangerous to animal biological system.
Oil spillage can affect animals and plants in two ways: from the oil component or from the response on cleanup operations. Understanding both types of impacts can help spill conservers minimize overall impacts to ecological communities and help them to recover much more quickly.
The type of oil spilled matters because different types of oil behave differently in the environment, and animals and birds are affected differently by different types of oil
Oil spills can impact wildlife directly through three primary pathways:
* Ingestion: that is when animals swallow oil particles directly.
* Absorption: that is when animals come into direct contact with oil
* Inhalation: that is when animals breathe volatile components released from oil
Therefore, there exist various effects of oil spill both on the animals’ external system or the internal systems leading to displeasing effects. Some of the adverse effects of oil spill to Marine animals are explained in the contexts below.
Contamination of marine water directly or indirectly affects marine food for marine animals and hence relocation of home ranges as animals search for new sources of food. If a spill causes direct mortality to the food resources of a particular species, many individuals of this species will need to relocate their foraging activities to regions unaffected by the spill. This leads to increased competition for remaining food sources in more localized areas. This congregating can be especially problematic for rare species which may become more susceptible to predation or to future catastrophic events while a large proportion of the population forages in a few concentrated patches.
Oil spillage causes adverse disruption of marine animals’ natural life cycle. Disruptions to life cycles may become apparent if particular life forms are more vulnerable to the effects of oil than others. Eggs, larvae, and juveniles of many species are more vulnerable to harmful effects from pollutants than adults. Changes in the relative numbers of individuals from different life stages within a species may lead to shifts in habitat use patterns which cause contrasted effects on the food chain and if a particular life stage of a species is decimated, the ability of the species to recover after the spill is greatly reduced.
Oil spillage in marine ecosystem is likely to cause hypothermia to victimized animals majorly birds. When an oil spill occurs it mixes with water to form a compound known as mousse which sticks to feather and far. A bird's feathers are filled with air spaces that act as insulation and keep the bird warm. When a bird gets coated with mousse or direct oil, the feathers lose their insulating ability and the bird could die of hypothermia since it will lose its insulating ability. Young animals like seal pups are particularly vulnerable.
Oil spill on the marine ecosystem can cause poisoning and internal damage to marine animals either slowly or in a faster rate. Effects on this include ulcers and damage to red blood cells, kidneys, liver and to the immune system. Oil vapors can injure the eyes and lungs, and can be particularly dangerous while new incoming oil is still experienced on the surface and vapors are evaporating. If vapors are severe enough, marine mammals may become sleepy and drown. This effect can be interconnected since when animals higher in the food chain feeds on already victimized animal, hence it will experience the same same effects.
As seen above, hypothermia can lead to changed life system of affected animals or directly lead to their death. If they don’t die and become vulnerable therefore increased predation will be experienced. Oil can weigh down feathers and fur, making it difficult for birds and pinnipeds to escape from predators. If they are covered with enough oil, birds or pinnipeds may actually drown hence raising the chances of increased predation.
Oil spillage on the sea surface can impact reproduction negatively such reducing its rate or stopping the whole process. For instance Oil spills can affect the eggs of marine life such as fish and sea turtles, both when the spill happens and later on. Obviously when eggs of marine animals are destroyed it’s practical that the issue will have a hazardous impact on their production. Also, Oil can cause disruption of reproductive hormones and behavioral changes that lead to reduced reproduction rates or affect the care of young and juvenile offspring.
Oil spillage also affects various marine animals’ survival techniques majorly the search for food. For instance, Oil can coat baleen (comb like growths) in the mouths of toothless whales used for filtering prey out of ingested water and make it ineffective for capturing prey hence their reduced survival chances due to linked starvation from the predation constraints.
Oil spillage on the marine ecosystem also contains adverse effects on marine animals. For instance, Fish and shellfish may not be exposed immediately, but can come into contact with oil if it is mixed into the water column. When exposed to oil, adult fish may experience reduced growth, enlarged livers, and changes in heart and respiration rates, fin erosion, and reproduction impairment. These combinations of biological effects reduce the lifespan of these organisms or cause sudden death to them.
Oil spillage on the marine ecosystem can directly cause death to marine animals. For instance, light oils present two significant hazards to marine life. First, some can ignite or explode hence burning up marine animals to their death. Second, many light oils, such as gasoline and diesel, are also considered to be toxic, they can kill animals if directly consumed by the animals.
Oil spillage affects adaptive abilities of marine animals in their community. For instance, animals that rely on scent to find their...
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