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Thursday, October 16, 2014

MARINE POLLUTION: OIL SPILLS

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The Marine Pollution, as defined by the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC) for United Nations Educational and Scientific Commission, the introduction by man, directly or indirectly, of substances into the marine environment, resulting in such deleterious effects as harm to living resources, hazards to human health, or hindrance to marine activities and reduction of amenities.
Causes of Marine Pollution
Sources of Marine Pollution are –
                        1. Marine Commerce,
                        2. Industrial Effluents joining seas and oceans,
                        3. Dumping of radioactive substances into sea water,
                        4. Sewage brought to the sea by rivers,
                        5. Offshore oil rigs,
                        6. Recreational activities,
                        7. Agricultural pollutants brought to the sea by rivers.
Major Pollutants causing Marine Pollution
The pollutants associated with marine environment are pathogens, sediments, solid wastes, heat, brine, toxic organic substances, petroleum, nutrients, radioactive materials, acids and bases etc.
The Oil Spills
The layer of oil spread on the surface of the sea water, is called as oil spills. The oil on the surface of the sea water gets spread due to following reasons –
                             1. Damage caused to oil tankers by accidents,
                             2. Natural seepage of water,
                            3. Offshore production losses associated with oil refineries,
                            4. Disposal of used automobile lubricants etc. into sea water.
The oil spread on the sea water acts as an insulating layer between air and water. Due to this, the oxygen of the atmosphere cannot mix with water. The deficiency of dissolved oxygen in water kills varieties of sea animals. The sea birds that catch fish by dipping into sea water become unable to fly due to oiling of their wings.      
It is due to frequent oil spills that sea otters, many sea birds, whales and many other species of the marine environment have become endangered. The oil spill damages fisheries and Mari culture, and causes serious economic losses to the local public and the governments.
The pollution in coastal bays, estuaries and wetlands threaten many species of fish inhabiting these places. 260,000 barrels of oil was spilled from oil tanker Exxon Valdez into Alaska’s Prince William Soundin 1989. About 4.4 billion Litres (0.2 billion gallons) of oil was spilled in about 8,539 oil spills in 1999, in and around the waters of the United States.

Key Words: marine, oil spills, offshore, sea animals

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