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Persistence of spilled oil on shores and its effects on biota

Seas at the millennium - an environmental evaluation

By:
Edited by:
Sheppard C.R.C.

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Abstract

Over two million tonnes of oil are estimated to enter the world's oceans every year. A small percentage, but still a large volume, of this oil strands onshore, where its persistence is governed primarily by the action of physical forces. In some cases, biota influence the persistence of stranded oil or the rate of its weathering. Oil's deleterious effects on biota are frequently related to the persistence and degree of weathering of the oil, with long-lasting effects in low-energy environments such as salt marshes and coastal mangroves, or in higher-energy environments where oil is sequestered. However, an oil spill can have disproportionately large biological effects when it affects key species or processes (e.g., structurally important species, predators, prey, recruitment, or succession). In these cases, the continuing presence of oil is not always a prerequisite for continuing biological effects. There are relatively few long-term studies of the effects of oil spills; data from these suggest that oil can persist for decades in some environments or situations, and that biological effects can be equally persistent. Broad-based, integrated studies have been the most revealing in terms of the importance of direct and indirect effects, spillover effects between different parts of the environment, and continuing linkages between residual oil and biologic effects. Clean-up and treatment techniques applied to spilled or stranded oil can also have significant, long-lasting effects and need to be carefully evaluated prior to use.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Persistence of spilled oil on shores and its effects on biota
Series title:
Seas at the millennium - an environmental evaluation
ISBN:
0080432077
Volume
3
Year Published:
2000
Language:
English
Publisher:
Elsevier Science Inc.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
267
Last page:
281
Number of Pages:
15