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Impact on Marine Environment of Oil Spills

Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, mankind has increasingly become reliant on fossil fuels, such as oil, for energy. Oil fuels our car, warms our homes, generates our electricity, and creates a myriad of goods including everything that contains plastic. In our global economy, oil must be transported great distances to reach markets throughout the world. With seemingly increasing frequency, these journeys sometimes end in accidents that result in oil being spilled into the oceanùsuch as the infamous Exxon-Valdez incident in 1989. While oil-tanker accidents achieve far-flung notoriety and are widely reported, they are not the only way in which oil can reach the marine environment. Oil spilled on land can reach lakes, rivers, wetlands, and the ocean itself. When spilled oil interacts with an aquatic environment, it causes damage to the entire ecosystem. Oil can directly damage the animal and plant organisms that live in or around the water surface as well those that live underwater or at the bottom of the ocean. This harm can damage the entire marine food chain in that environment and can directly affect resources that are used by humans for food. Despite the sensation that large oil spills cause, however, there is no direct relationship between the size of an oil spill and the damage it will cause to the environment. This paper will outline all the factors that come into play when spilled oil comes into contact with the marine environment.

The nature of the damage to the environment that an oil spill causes depends on a variety of factors. First and foremost, it depends on the nature of the oil that has spilled. The term oil refers to a broad range of substances that are based on hydrocarbons, including substances such as crude oil or petroleum but also animal fats, vegetable oils, and other non-petroleum based oils. Different oils have different physical and chemical properties, and these properties direct...

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Impact on Marine Environment of Oil Spills. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:23, February 18, 2019, from