Oil spill in water causes several issues. When oil leaks from an oil tanker, it may cause a million gallons of oil spills. As a result, many marine lives like mammals, fishes will die.

Oil Spill in Water | Definition | Causes | Impact on Environment & Marine Life

An oil spill in water can damage many marine lives and kill many mammals. When an oil spill occurs and takes a large part in the ocean, therefore it may result in local issues. Much local marine wildlife like fishes, birds can face difficulties in their lifestyle. As oil doesn’t dissolve in water, it results in plenty of problems.

Causes Of Oil Spills In Ocean

Oil spills in water may cause due to anthropogenic or natural reasons. Apart from these, the oil spill in water may cause by accidental spills, oil discharges, etc.

  • Natural cause: Cruid oil takes a long time to produce as it needs the organic matter of the organisms which are dead. We get to see this type of natural oil spills in oceans for the erosion of sedimentary rocks that are present at the bottom of the ocean.
  • Anthropogenic causes: Human activities like oil transporting, oil refining, oil handling, different usages of crude oil- all activities are included under the anthropogenic causes. This cause indicates mainly the accidental oil spills.
  • Accidental oil spills: While transporting oils through oceans, many tanker ships and trucks spill hundreds of million-gallon oils on water.
  • International discharges: It may cause the burning of fuels or the drainage system. Here, different components like Benzene and PAHs could cause harmful effects on marine life.
  • Routine activities for maintenance: While people clean ships, then there remains always a risk of occurring an oil spill in water. Sometimes, one ship may cause a few gallons of oil spills.
Oil Spill in Sea Effects on Marine Life
Oil Spill in Sea Effects on Environment | Oil Spill in Water

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Large and recent Oil Spill List in the world 

  1. Gulf of Mexico: Recently, we have seen the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that causes an effect on marine life heavily. This accidental oil spill has been continuing since April 22, 2010.
  2. Ixtoc 1 Oil Well: In June 1979, the Mexican petroleum company Pemex caused a large oil spill in the Bay of Campeche of the Gulf of Mexico. The period was about ten months when approx 140 million gallons of oil( about 10,000 – 30,000 barrels) were discharged into the sea every day. The accident took around 1100 square miles in the ocean.
  3. Atlantic Empress: This accident occurred in July 1979 in the Caribbean sea when two oil tankers collided for a tropical storm. In this accident, the amount of discharging of oil was about 88.3 million gallons.
  4. Nowruz Field Platform: It was seen in 1983 in the Persian Gulf when the war between Iran and Iraq was happening. This accident caused a large oil spill of 80 million gallons in a day.
  5. ABT Summer: It was occurred on May 28, 1991, near the coast of Angola. About 51 million gallons of oil were spilled into the sea.
  6. Castillo de Bellver: This Spanish tanker was containing about 79 million gallons or Crude oil. The firing accident occurred in August 1983 near Capetown.
  7. Amoco Cadiz: This oil spill in water caused in Brittany, France on March 16, 1978. Due to bad weather, this oil accident happened.
  8. MT Heaven: On the coast of Genoa, Italy in 1991, this major oil spill was seen which caused about 144,000 tons of oil.
  9. Odyssey oil spill: This Liberian tanker caused 43 million gallons of Crude oil on the coast of Canada in November 1988.
  10. Exxon Valdez oil spill: After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, this accidental oil spill toom the second rank according to the largest oil spills. It was seen in Alaska in March 1989.

Facts About Oil Spills

  • Pipelines and fixed facilities mainly cause more than two-thirds of an oil spill in water which usually spread on the land or water such as oceans.
  • Accidental spills cause an average of 15% oil spills in the oceans every year.
  • Tankers and barges have spilled about six million tonnes of oil in the ocean and effected the marine life from 1970. The oil spills which are larger than 700 tonnes are responsible for most of the oil spilled into the entire water life.
  • Oil spill in water is seen frequently in the northeast part of the United States and the Mediterranean sea.
Oil Spill in Sea Effects on Environment
Oil Spill in Sea Effects on Marine Life

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Impact on Environment & Marine Life

An oil spill in water causes multiple issues in the environment. Many components can be affected by the oil spill. This may cause several issues in respiration, feeding, etc.

Due to an oil spill in water, the adult fishes face reduced growth. Apart from this, it affects respiration rates, heart, etc. 

Impact on the Environment Impact on Marine Life
  • Make unsuitable areas for the wild habitats
  • Damage plants
  • Create large issues for the sea birds as they find their foods by diving into the water.
  • Damage nesting grounds
  • Effect sea turtles while they come to lay eggs on the beach
  • Turtles that are newly hatched can be oiled
  • Many elements get affected
  • Like Respiration, feeding  and other organisms may be affected
  • Kill dolphins, whales, and marine animals.
  • Oil clogs blowholes of mammals and creates difficulties to breathe.
  • Creates hypothermia in the seal bodies.
  • Affects in respiration rates.
  • Decrease growth of adult fishes
  • Reproduction issues may occur
  • Adult fishes face enlarged livers and some changes in their hearts



How We can prevent Oil Spills

  • If the bolts are loose, therefore there is always a chance of leaking oil and occurring major damage. Therefore, tightening the bolts is a solution to control the oil spill in water.
  • Besides, we can outfit the engine with the help of a drip pan to prevent an oil spill.
  • Apart from these, we can create pads that can absorb oil spills in water heavily and prevent it from discharging.



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