In Oil Spills, the oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters. The Oil may be crude oil from the tankers, offshore platforms, drilling rigs, Oil wells, ships or in any other form.
Impacts on Marine Life
- Plumage: The most important impact of the oil spills on the sea organisms is on the plumage of the birds. The seabirds, when their plumage gets penetrated by the soil, the insulating ability is reduced drastically and the birds became vulnerable to minor change in temperature. The oil penetration also makes them less buoyant in water.
- Ingestion: The ingestion of the oil by the seabirds and sea mammals causes Kidney Failure, dehydration and other metabolic disorders.
- Furs: The furs of the sea otters and other marine animals are affected in several ways.
- Photosynthesis: The oil floats on the top of the water and this reduces the penetration of sunlight in the sea water.
The Recovery from the oil spill is difficult and depends upon many factors. The clearing and recovery depends upon the following factors:
- Type of the oil spilled
- Temperature of the water which may affect the evaporation and biodegradation.
- Type of shore line involved.
Largest Oil Spills
As per records, Kuwaiti oil fires of 1991 is the largest Oil spill of the world till date. It included 14-20 crore tons of crude oil. The top largest oil spills are as follows:
- Kuwaiti oil fires 1991
- Lakeview Gusher 1910-1911
- Gulf War oil spill 1991
- Deepwater Horizon 2010
- Ixtoc I , Mexico Oil Spill of 1979
Bioremediation of Oil Spills
Bioremediation uses the microorganisms or biological agents such as oil eating bacteria. There are three kinds of oil-consuming bacteria viz. Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB), Acid-producing bacteria are anaerobic and General aerobic bacteria (GAB). Out of them, Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) and acid-producing bacteria are anaerobic, while general aerobic bacteria (GAB) are aerobic.
In 2010, a new technique of using the bacteria to get rid of oil spill became popular called Oil Zapper. Oil Zapping is a bio-remediation technique involving the use of ‘oil zapping’ bacteria.