Two Different Types of Oil Spills – Human and Environmentally Natural

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Updated: Aug 30, 2023
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It is not considered an oil spill when oil seeps through the ground underwater. It is considered an oil spill when it is caused by human activity and affects waterways and underwater ecosystems. For example, oil spills can block sunlight from reaching coral reefs, causing them to die. This, in turn, affects the habitats for marine life. Not only can oil block sunlight, but it can also infect the coral reefs and kill marine life. The only difference between human-caused and naturally occurring oil spills is the quantity of oil dumped versus oil seeped each year.

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Overall, the differences are the amount and the regularity of it being dumped or seeped.

The same effects still apply; life is affected and it’s not only small fish that suffer but also larger sea life, such as sea lions. Sea lions depend on their clean coats to stay warm. Once these are dirtied with oil, they cannot maintain their body warmth and are susceptible to hypothermia. These are effects that can trigger a domino effect on the whole ecosystem and can cause a shift in the food chain. Looking at worldwide data and considering how much oil has been dumped from tankers, all the tonnes from the 1970s to the 1990s, we see that less oil has been dumped since 2006, and we can anticipate a further decrease in the future.

We are beginning to make advancements in solar energy and electric cars so less oil will be used in the future. However, we must also remember that electricity still requires the burning of oil in some locations. We can focus on these locations and begin to find ways to change the compound of the oil, making it safer to dispose of by increasing its polarity. These are advancements we can achieve in the future, marking a trend in the decrease of oil spills. Therefore, though oil spills are dangerous for underwater ecosystems and life, future advancements will likely lead to a significant decrease in oil spills.

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Two Different Types of Oil Spills - Human and Environmentally Natural. (2020, Apr 06). Retrieved from