Effects of Oil Spills on Marine Life

Oil Spill in Thailand

Effects of Oil Spills on Marine Life

Hello and welcome to another post in our series about the effects of oil spills. In this post, we are going to take a brief look at how oil affects our furry and feathered friends.

The effects of oil spills on birds and animals happen in two ways:

  1. through the oil itself
  2. through the cleanup of the oil

As I want to keep this article reasonable short, we will be looking at the way oil affects birds and animals. You will be able to read about how dispersants affect animals and birds here when I have finished it.

The way an oil spill is handled depends on many factors, but a good way to start dealing with an oil spill is to decide which is the lesser of the two evils – the oil spill or the way the oil spill is cleaned up. In most cases, if the oil spill is a long way offshore, the best thing to do is just to leave the spill to its own devices, as it will eventually disperse of its own accord.

Effects of Oil Spills on Animals and Birds

When it’s not possible to leave the oil spill to do its own thing, the oil, if it is permitted to, can do a great deal of damage to just about any living thing. This is mainly because of the chemical constituents of oil, which are toxic. The poisonous components may impact organisms in two ways.

  1. Internally though breathing them in or swallowing them and externally when the poisonous chemicals get into the pores of the skin or come in contact with the eyes.
  2. Smothering some species of fish or invertebrates and coating feathers and fur. This lessens the capacity of birds and mammals to regulate their body temperatures.

Pelican Escaping Oiled Waters

Pelican Escaping Oiled Waters – Photo NOAA

What Animals Are Most Affected by Oil Spills?

Given that most oils float, the creatures most affected by oil are seabirds. In the course of most oil spills, seabirds are harmed and killed in higher amounts than other kinds of creatures, mainly because they inhabit not only the sea surface but also the shoreline; the two areas most affected by oil spills.

Sea otters are also harmed by oil as the oil makes it difficult to keep their body temperatures constant. If oil remains on the seashore for any length of time, other creatures, such as snails, clams, and land animals in general will start to suffer.

What Actions Are Taken When Oil-Affected Animals Are Found?

Most countries have rules regarding the techniques to adhere to when dealing with oily animals. Untrained people shouldn’t attempt to clean up birds or animals on their own. This is not usually necessary anyway, as at most U.S. spills, fowl and/or mammal rehabilitation centres are set up to treat oily creatures. If you want to find out more about how you can help, follow this link.

Of course, it would be a far better world if we could live without oil and its side effects but sadly we can’t. Until we can, Dragon Sorb will continue to develop products that will help to protect our furry and feathered friends.

And as always, if you would like to be kept up-to-date on all the things happening at Dragon Sorb, including news of our growing range of products, please fill out the very brief form below.

Featured Image by Sujin Jetkasettakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net