Oil waste is the fastest source of deterioration of the marine ecosystem. It’s more harmful than the trash and waste found in the ocean. It’s estimated that over 2600 million litres of oil waste enter the ocean every year.
There are many causes of oil waste, such as accidental spills and leaks. In most cases, spills and leaks are the results of chronic and careless habits in the use of oil and oil products. But oil spills and leaks aren’t the main culprits for oil waste: land drainage is the source of most of the oil found in the ocean.
Have you ever tried to imagine the impact oil waste has on marine life? Learn more about how oil waste affects both marine life and those on land.
Oil waste impact on marine life
There’s no doubt that oil waste will negatively affect habitats, wildlife, weather events as well as seasonal and climatic conditions. This could be our fate as some oils evaporate into the atmosphere or dissolve into the sea water. But these listed aftermath effects are just long-term. What are the effects that we can see manifested today?
- Oil suffocates marine life to death and for those that survive, break down their thermal insulation. A similar effect can be identified when looking at birds and animals that ingest oil when they try to clean themselves with water and are affected badly
- What’s more, oil destroys the insulating ability of fur-bearing mammals, resulting in their inability to repel water and insulate cold water – these birds and mammals die from hypothermia
- Fish and shellfish that may not be exposed immediately to the oil waste eventually come into contact with the oil, which is poison to them. When exposed to the oil, adult fish run the chances of reduced growth, enlarged livers, experience changes in heart and respiration rates, fin erosion and reproduction impairment
- Marine life in contact with oil waste is said to show behavioural changes
Other effects of oil waste on marine life include commercial fishing enterprises being affected.
There’s a possibility of oil residue surfacing on our shorelines. This would be a long-term fate of oil on shore. However, it depends on a list of factors: composition and properties, the volume of oil on the shore, and sediment and rocks contacted by oil
The above-listed effects will eventually cause changes in the entire ecosystem. Researchers believe that by 2048 many ocean regions of the world will be fishless, if drastic changes aren’t undertaken. Learn more about how you can make a change by joining a marine conservation program or try a shark cage diving tour and appreciate the beautiful and mysterious creatures of the deep blue.