The Effects Of Oil Pollution On The Gulf Of Mexico Essay

The Effects Of Oil Pollution On The Gulf Of Mexico Essay

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The media is consumed with the news of a single event. News anchors dart about, clusters of people in yellow jumpsuits line the beach, and groups of boats encircle the harbor waters. A collision occurred between a crude oil tanker and a barge caused thousands of barrels to leak into the surrounding ocean. The visible damage is shocking; the vibrant blues and greens of the ocean have been diminished to a dull cloudy brown. Volunteers are walking along the coast collecting shellfish in order to protect them from shoreline contamination. Many scientists argue that oil pollution will not last indefinitely in the environment, which is true only from a certain perspective. Environmental damage from a single oil spill can be found on shores which are hundreds of thousands of miles away from the initial spill. Oil spills concur many negative implications on ecosystems and animals both from the exposed oil and cleanup procedures.
When a major oil spill occurs in the Gulf of Mexico, you will be updated with daily news about it for a few weeks to come. The news will chart its progress, damage, and cleanup efforts. However, major oil spills account for a small percentage of total oil pollution. If the ratio is so drastic, then why do these spills receive so much attention? The pie chart below from the textbook Ocean Our Planet by Robert Stewart portrays the proportions of oil pollution sources in worldwide marine waters.
This image shows how natural seeps of oil account for almost half of all oil pollution: “Oil seeps are common in many areas, including the Gulf of Mexico and offshore of Southern California, and in other areas where oil is found beneath the continental shelf” (Stewart). Second to natural seeps is consumptio...


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... visual aid is gone so is the event from their minds. Many people are surprised to find that natural runoff of oil accounts for more pollution than actual leaks and oil spills. Concentrated spills of heavy crude oil require immediate and intensive cleanup procedures. Boats with booms and skimmer equipment try to gather as much crude oil from the surface of the water as they can, while workers on shore use high pressure hot water to clean oil off of rocks. These cleanup procedures must be executed correctly or they can actually cause more damage to the environment than the oil itself. In addition dispersants used to break down large amounts of the crude oil can cause reproductive and health problems in a number of other species exposed to the mixture. All in all, oil spills and leaks can cause many negative implications on ecosystems near and far from the source.

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