Oil spill in Mumbai affected regeneration of mangroves: Study

Mumbai, Jan 24 (PTI) The oil spill caused by thecollision between two merchant vessels off the city coast lastyear has affected the regeneration of the mangrove vegetation,according to a study.

However, the mature stands of the most populatedmangrove, Avicennia, was least affected by the marine disasterthat occurred over five months ago, Bombay Natural HistorySociety (BNHS), a city-based NGO, has said.

"Avicennia marina has survived through several decadesof heavy pollutions at Mumbai coast. Its mature stands wereleast affected by the oil spill. However, the spill certainlyaffected the regeneration putting the entire population ofmangroves at stake," Deepak Apte, BNHS Deputy Director(conservation) said in his interim report on "Study of impactof oil spill on mangroves of Mumbai and Raigad coast fromAugust to November 2010."

The final report is expected in November as moreseasonal data is required to attain a sound idea about impacton mangrove seedling establishment as well as faunalcommunities, Apte said.

"The collision and subsequent oil spill certainlycaused significant disturbance to the marine and coastalhabitats. The oil, which spread over about 12.73 sq km area,had its own serious consequences over the marine life."

The study also reported three dead Indo-Pacific Hump-backed Dolphins - two at Uran and one at Sasvane - both inadjoining Raigad district.

The mangrove community on Mumbai and surroundingcoastal mudflats are dominated by Avicennia. (more) PTI LV RSYETB

Two cargo ships - MSC Chitra and MV Khalija - had collided on August 9. This had resulted in the release of anestimated 400 to 500 tonnes of fuel oil from their fuel tanks.

Following the crash, one of them, MSC Chitra, had tiltedsharply and containers loaded on it had fallen into the sea.

As many as 31 of the 1,219 containers loaded on thevessels had hazardous chemicals, including pesticides.

The study covered oil spill affected coastal areas ofMumbai, Navi Mumbai and Raigad districts including Colaba,Gharapuri, Vashi, Sewri, Karanja, Uran, Rewas, Mandava,Sasavane, Awas and Khim, Apte said

It said monitoring of ecologically sensitive speciesis important to assess the long-term impacts of the spill.

The reduction of oil content of the soil samples fromAugust to September and from September to October variedlargely from site to site. This can be attributed to the tidalmovements and consequently oil being washed off from one placeand getting deposited at the other, Apte added.

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