Black Muck in the Sea

She tried to flap her wings over and over and over again, but in vain. The little bird glanced once more at her sticky wings, black with the muck the humans had dumped into the sea. A few more attempts to lift off, once more in vain.Two hours later, she gave in to her futile efforts and just sat still, fully aware that her enemies would soon gulp her down…

It was indeed most unfortunate, that her predictions had to come true.

“What was the black stuff that prevented our feathered friend from taking to the skies?” I hear you asking. “Why, oil of course” you hear the reply. “Where did it come from?” you enquire. “From the surface of the sea” you hear the reply. “How on earth did oil get there?” you ask finally. “We put it there” you hear the reply. Well, for the answers to the next few questions you may ask, read on.

Most would wonder how often these oil spills take place. Statistics reveal that approximately 706 million gallons of waste oil enter the ocean every year, with over half coming from land drainage and waste disposal; for example, from the improper disposal of used motor oil. When this oil leaks into the ocean, it initially spreads in the water and the oil slick formed may remain cohesive and thick, or may break up in the case of rough seas. Waves, water currents, and wind force the oil slick to drift over large areas, impacting the open ocean, coastal areas, and marine and terrestrial habitats in the path of the drift.

In the recent case of 2010’s (which is also in the tedious process of a settlement) largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also referred to as the BP oil spill) made it to the list of most lethal oil spills almost, ever. The oil spill resulted in a massive explosion, killing 11 platform workers and injuring 17 others. The consequences of these careless mistakes run into long lists with death to a humongous number of birds, an even more rapid decline in our oil possession being listed as a few. So what can we do about cleaning the oceans of our mess? Sadly, there aren’t many measures we can take to get rid of the oil already in our precious oceans for they depend largely upon the type of oil spilled, the temperature of the water, and the types of shorelines etcetera, etcetera. However this most certainly does not mean that our roles in the matter have become any smaller, and that shutting our eyes and muttering a prayer for the good Lord to send down a solution is the only way out. Methods already discovered include using biological agents to break down or remove oil and controlled burning which can effectively reduce the amount of oil in water but only if done properly in low wind, failing which, the problem worsens for the air is polluted further. So all we need, are more ideas and innovations. Experts realise the urgency of the situation and that it does command the arrival of a practical solution and hence, hope with all their might that this issue will be debated about at a global level more often.

A long, long time ago, the oceans glittered blue. Poseidon would struggle to breathe if ever he were to see himself covered with silt and filth and the literal Black seas. For the seas to turn blue once more and the air to turn clean, we need to do our little bit; each one of us: it is bound to make a difference in preserving this treasure for generations to come.

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