chapapote derrame petroleo02 | Oil spills and the marine ecosystem

Oil Spill Response

Oil spills at sea. How do they affect the environment?

The best solution to oil spills at sea is to prevent with professional cleaning and containment teams that help quickly to clean up the spill

Transport of oil by sea increases every year.

European ports are the origin or destination of around a billion tons of oil per year, of which around 70% passes through ports on the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

This means oceans, coastlines and beaches are all in danger of being affected by oil spills, given the amount of accidents which happen on a daily basis. This has disastrous consequences for the sea, and by extension, for the plant and animal species which call it home.

Oil spill on a beach, after an oil spill in the sea
Oil spill on a beach, after an oil spill in the sea

It is vital for our own survival that we take good care of our oceans, coastlines and beaches, since marine pollution is a major problem which directly affects marine flora and fauna, and indirectly affects human health.

For this reason, we need to be aware of the damage caused by these disasters and develop effective plans of action to deal swiftly with the problem when it occurs, or be prepared with the best solution for oil-spill clean-up , in anticipation of a disaster.

Environmental impact of oil spills

The effect an oil spill has on the sea is progressive, in other words, it happens in different phases.

First of all, the moment an oil spill occurs, an oily film is formed on the surface of the water which blocks out light below the surface for days, weeks or even months on end if it is not contained and removed quickly. Due to the fact that marine plants require sunlight to perform photosynthesis, if they receive no sunlight they will quickly perish.

Next, the spilled oil will gradually sink into the sea and give rise to under water pollution. Its highly toxic composition can cause the disappearance of multiple micro-organisms.

And also, in time, oil spills at sea cause irreversible damage to all living things which make up the local ecosystem. As their sources of nutrition and reproductive systems suffer grave damage, the survival of some species will be on a knife edge as a result.

Spilled oil on sandy beach
Spilled oil on sandy beach

Which species are most affected by this environmental problem?

Oil on seabirds after a spill at sea
Oil on seabirds after a spill at sea

In general, oil spills affect all marine mammals, fish and crustaceans, as well, of course, as birds which spend most of their time near the sea.

The marine mammals most affected by oil spills are dolphins, whales and turtles. This is because when they surface to breathe, oil can get into their respiratory tracts and block them.

Birds can also be seriously affected by oil spills. Unfortunately many birds are poisoned when cleaning themselves due to toxic substances in the oil, and others lose the ability to fly when the feathers on their wings become covered in oil, and eventually die of hypothermia due to lack of movement.

Other creatures which suffer due to oil spills are crustaceans and fish, becoming unsuitable for human consumption.

While these creatures are often not affected by a spill immediately, in just a few days sea currents can bring the oil to their habitats.

What action should be taken when faced with an oil spill at sea?

Due to the grave impact of oil spills at sea, preventive action is vital. If this is neglected, thousands of species may suffer due to direct contact with toxic substances.

But the good news is these effects are avoidable, and the health of beaches and oceans can be protected.

A marine oil pollution prevention plan is better than a cure when it comes to oil spills at sea, if we use professional equipment to swiftly contain and clean up the spills.

The best solution to oil spills at sea is to prevent with professional cleaning and containment teams that help quickly to clean up the spill

Port construction companies, companies drilling for oil, or large and small companies involved with the shipping of oil, as well as industry, amongst many others, keep a stock of the best containment booms, skimmers and oil recovery and clean-up equipment, in order to be able to take fast action and minimise the risks associated with these disasters.

Oil spill clean-up on beaches and coasts
Oil spill clean-up on beaches and coasts

If you need help getting started, Markleen can help you define your needs, both in spill prevention and oil recovery and clean-up techniques. Contact us with your requirements, we can provide the equipment and protocols necessary for a swift solution.

The key to solving the problem is prevention. If we are able to prevent the oil from reaching sensitive areas, the disaster will be largely averted.

Contact us

We’ll help you find an effective solution to your problem.

With innovation and respect for the environment at the forefront, knowing that not all spills are the same, we’ll make sure you know what you really need and how to use it.

Fill out this form and one of our sales staff will contact you. If you have information on the actual product application, that will help us to better tailor our offer to your needs.

    Case studies

    Take a look at some of the solutions provided by Markleen to its customers’ problems. We work hand in hand with our customers from day one to offer them an integral package which is tailored to their needs.

    Algerian ports

    Algerian ports acquire a number of Markleen containerised oil spill response packages to protect seven major ports.

    CEPSA Huelva

    The systems are a protection measure against oil spills and were chosen for their ease of use and manoeuvrability in the water.

    NOFO Norwegian Association

    Supply of 10 complete MOS Boom systems to NOFO – The Norwegian Clean Seas Association for Operating Companies.