Oil spills are one of the worst man made environmental hazards that occur. Unfortunately, the affects of oil spills not only damage pristine beaches, oil spills also harm and kill wild animals. One of the worst oil spills in history was the Exxon Valdez spill. However, in the last few years, there have been damaging spills as well.
In 2011, nearly 2,000 tons of oil spilled from a cargo vessel off the coast of New Zealand. This spill resulted in mumerous penguins, cormorants and seabirds being coated in oil. Marine mammals were also affected.
One of the worst recent spills in the United States was the BP Gulf oil spill. According to some sources, over 7,000 animals, including several species of birds and turtles, died as a result of exposure to oil.
When oil coats a bird, it renders the bird unable to fly. It also irritates the skin. As the bird attempts to preen, it ingests oil that will evenutally cause the bird’s death.
Marine mammals affected by oil spills are at risk of inhaling the oil into their lungs. They may also develop skin and eye ulcerations. Large oil spills have been known to affect the migratory patterns of some whale species.
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