Even without being familiar with any specific facts and statistics about oil spills, one would certainly understand these events are greatly harmful to the environment. Once we look at the data, that reality only gets stronger. Oil spills have severe and lasting effects on animals, among them birds, marine mammals, and fish. They destroy ecosystems and it can take decades for wildlife to recover from a spill’s impact.
We do not have to look very far back for examples of how oil spills have impacted the environment. The BP oil spill and the Exxon-Valdez spill both happened relatively recently and each left a horrific mark where they occurred. Immediately following the Exxon-Valdez spill, in which 11 million gallons of oil were emptied into the Prince William Sound, around 2,000 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250,000 seabirds, 250 bald eagles, and up to 22 orcas all died. Even more than a decade after the event, researchers found that a significant amount of oil was still present in the waters and its impacts persisted. The effects turned out to be more long-lasting than anyone had expected. Specifically, it was found that salmon had increased mortality for four years after the spill had taken place because of the incubating eggs’ contact with the oil.
It is terrifying to think just how severe consequences the Exxon-Valdez spill – and a number of other oil spills – had on the environment and the wildlife in their respective areas. Add to that the fact that another oil spill can happen practically any minute – and it becomes clear that something has to be done so that oil does not, in fact, get the chance to kill any more animals and pollute any more waters ever again.
Ocean Conservancy is urging the Coast Guard in a petition to implement key measures found in the studies of increasing vessel traffic in the Arctic that will improve safety and reduce environmental risks connected with the traffic. The updated regulations on ship traffic in the Bearing Sea would significantly diminish the probability of another oil spill in the area. Click here to take action and sign the petition to reduce the risks of increased vessel traffic in the Arctic!
Image source: Tamara Ward/publicdomainpictures