How Ocean Pollution Affects Marine Life

Water and Oil Don’t Mix: the Impacts on Oil Spills

The oceans are very busy. Providing a home to millions of species and fighting to keep it safe 24/7, and oil is just one more thing added to the “to-do” list.  Luckily, major oil spills do not happen very often. We would be in big trouble if the incident in 1969 (3 million gallons of oil spilled into Santa Barbara channel) was not a rarity. Oil spills are unfortunate events that are usually an expensive accident, but they do a lot harm to our under water nature.


Thankfully oil and salt water do not mix, due to their different levels of density. However, oil still triumphs in soaking into an otter’s fur or smearing over a bird’s feathers. Oil basically defeats the purpose of a furry animals protection fur layer, or an innocent bird’s feathers. Oil will destroy the insulating ability that fur has to keep animals warm, and will take away the feathers ability to repel water. Without the animal’s protective layer, the cold water will soak in and they could die a way too “cool” way, hypothermia. Animals may also end up consuming the oil while cleaning themselves (or other ways, no need to be creative), poisoning themselves.


Since oil is less dense than salt water, most fish don’t immediately come in contact with the harmful fluid when it spills. However water columns, or some circulation and mixing of the water, can expose fish as well as shell fish. If an adult fish intakes oil it may experience reduced growth, enlarged livers, changes in heart and respiration rates, fin erosion, reproduction impairment, oil also adversely affects eggs and larval survival. These effects can obviously have fatal endings for fish 😦


Although there is not much the average human being can do about preventing oil spills, there are specialized workers trying their best to help make them almost non-occurring. But there are so many other things we can do to make a difference, check out the “What we Can Do to Help” tab to learn more, thanks!


Credit to my wonderful source for my information

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