How Oil Harms Animals and Plants in Marine Environments

Top Up Fuels heating suppliers team would like to share with everyone how oil spills harm our wildlife and plants in marine environments. Countless amounts of oil spills happened last year, the biggest two large spills (700 tonnes) were both due to a collision. The first, in Singapore in January, resulted in a spill of approximately 4,500 tonnes of crude oil and the second in Turkey in June resulted in a spill of approximately 1,400 tonnes of naphtha.

Oil spills can affect animals and plants in two ways: from the oil itself and from the response or cleanup operations. Understanding both types of impacts can help spill responders minimize overall impacts to ecological communities and help them to recover much more quickly. Spilled oil can harm living things because its chemical constituents are poisonous. This can affect them both through ingestion or inhalation and from external exposure through skin and eye irritation. Oil can also smother some small species like fish and birds, this restricts them from flying and maintaining their body temperature. The oil smothers itself onto their coat feathers and fur which then completely makes them unable to fend for themselves, which results in them drowning.

There are multiple animals and birds who lose there life when oil is leaked into the water such as, sea otters and seabirds, especially as they are found on the sea surface and shorelines so if the oil comes ashore they are the prime suspect. During most oil spills, seabirds are harmed and killed in greater numbers than other kinds of creatures. Sea otters can easily be harmed by oil, since their ability to stay warm depends on their fur remaining clean. If oil remains on a beach for a while, other creatures, such as snails, clams, and terrestrial animals may suffer.

Organisations across the UK work together to resolve the impact oil spills have on our animals within their marine environments, NWF (National Wildlife Federation) and volunteers have been on the front lines since shortly after the Gulf oil disaster began. The Top Up Fuels heating suppliers team have been looking into volunteering for organisations such as NWF as we all show a big interest in keeping our wildlife and plants safe.

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