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13 Effects of Chemical Spills in the Ocean

by Ranisa Alda

The ocean has been used to transfer goods for since a very long time ago. It is also a favorable choice for companies and people who would like to carry things that has such a big size. One of the things that are commonly transported through the ocean is those that contains chemical compounds in it. However, unfortunately these shipments can sometimes have some errors or accidents that might cause chemical spills from the ships to the ocean.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Department of Commerce, in America alone there are thousand of both oil and chemical spills in coastal waters around its nation, ranging from “small ship collisions to fuel transfer mishaps to massive spill events” such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill accident. In this article, we will discover the effects of chemical spills in the ocean to better understand this issue.

See also: Ocean Pollution

  1. Destroy Habitat

The chemical spills may cause some destruction in the water. They may stay on the sediments or make the water itself dangerous since it then will contain the chemical compounds. The chemical spills may also stain not only the water but can even stay on the seabed, sediments, coral reefs. Thus make the area where the chemical spilled be destroyed. A worse scenario would be how the spills can even travel far from the initial spilled area and destroy other habitats along the way.

See also: Causes of Ocean Destruction

  1. Contaminate Critical Resources in Food Chain

The chemical spills may be consumed by plankton, microorganisms, or bacteria in the ocean water. These little ocean creatures may then be consumed by the fish. The fish will then also have a chance to be consumed by humanbeing. If the concentration of the chemicals inside these ocean-produced foods by the human, it may pose some threat to the health of the human who consume them too.

See also: Types of Soil in the Ocean

  1. Close Fisheries

The chemicals spilled into the ocean, like what have been explained above, might be consumed by the marine life forms and contaminate them. Therefore, this might lead to the close fisheries to prevent the contaminated ocean creatures to reach the human body. The closure may take a few while until the ocean is free from the spilled chemical or it can even lead to permanent closure if the concentration of the chemicals in the ocean water is considered too dangerous.

See also: Characteristics of Ocean Temperature

  1. Direct Effect on Fish

Some scientists found that the chemicals spilled into the ocean and consumed by the fish may cause the fish’s heart to malformed. Their study showed the chemicals cause the hearts of the fish embryos to beat slower and slower, resulting in a buildup of fluid around the hearts or even cause heart deformities.

See also: Characteristics of Ocean Ecosystems

  1. Effect on Sea Turtles

Jennifer Keller of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, S.C. had made some research for sea turtles along the U.S. East Coast. Their study found that the sea turtles that had been contaminated by some chemical compounds, in this case PFCs, showed damages on their livers and turned to be immunocompromised.

See also: Ocean Problems

  1. Interfere with Animals’ Hormone System

The chemical compounds that are spilled in the ocean may have varying impacts. Some of them might cause some change in the marine life forms’ hormone system. A researcher at the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project in Costa Mesa, California, found that hornyhead turbot, a common flatfish in the coastal waters of Southern California, had produced egg yolk proteins.

The researcher also found that these hornyhead turbots had estrogen levels as high as females, low thyroid hormone and cortisol levels, also impaired fish embryos due to the thyroid hormone growth.

See also: Ocean Sediments

  1. Effect on Ocean Corals

The corals exposed to chemical spills might show some visual effects. The effects shown can be skeletons, heavy mucous or loose tissue hanging from the skeleton, localized alteration of growth form, bleaching, and excessive sclerite production to form granuloma-like structures.

See also: Ocean Pollution Effects on Whales

  1. Decreasing Level of Oxygen

Most of the debris, including the chemical spills, will not decompose by themselves and remain in the ocean for a long time, They will then uses oxygen as it degrades. This situation may then decrease the levels of the oxygen. The decreasing level of oxygen may disturb the survival chance of marine life animals such as sharks, whales, dolphins, turtles, and penguins.

See also: Threats to Marine Mammals

  1. Drive Away Tourists

One of the effects of chemical spills in the ocean might also be the falling interest of tourists. This can happen especially if the spill happens on the touristy areas. Even if the area affected may not be closed after the spill since it turned out to be not harmful or way pass a long time, there is still a big chance that people will most-likely choose other destinations to spend their holiday for a safety reason.

See also: Global Warming Ocean Levels

  1. Shutdown Navigation Routes

The chemical spills might also be dangerous to be passed by the ships. This situation, when happened, might need the ships and related authorities to find new, safer, navigation routes. Not only this will cost more money, but it may also take a longer time for the ships to reach their initial destination.

See also: Effects of Ocean Pollution on Human Life

  1. Economic Breakdown

As a further impact of the three points that have been explained previously, those situations may cost a huge financial lost to the parties involved. The financial lost may vary and the more sever the spill is, the worse the economy plunge will be.

See also: Ways to Save the Dolphins

  1. Acid Rain

Acid rain can happen due to forming of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide forming together as mild acidic compounds. At a really low level, the impact of acid rain might just be simply stress the fish in lakes and streams. However, acid rain may kill the fish when happens in high level. Acid can also cause a harmful air pollution to humans and make the trees become even weaker.

See also: How to Treat Oil Spills in the Ocean

  1. Vulnerable to Invasive and Undesirable Species

On a long-term prospect, chemical spills, especially the large spill ones, that become chemical pollution may kill the ocean marine life forms in the end. This will shut down the affected ecosystem. Then, the area who experiences the loss may loss its diversity as well and become more vulnerable to undesirable and invasive species.

See also: Ways to Prevent Ocean Chafing

The effects of chemical spills might impose threats to ocean and the life forms living in it, both in a long-period and short-period of time. However, despite the effects being long or short term, we should take note that this is a serious issue that can eventually affect people as well. We hope that this article about the effects of chemical spills in the ocean will help you to understand further about the harms it may cause and spread the awareness to others.

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