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Explained: How deadly could oil spill be to marine ecosystem?

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New Delhi, Aug 14: With just a week after Mauritius declared a national emergency over an oil spill near its coast, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth on Thursday said that the spill has been cleaned up. The accident was traced to a Japanese ship, anchored off the southern part of the island nation in the Indian Ocean. It had raised concerns over the ecological damage caused to the region.

Oil Spill

What caused the oil spill?

A Japanese ship named MV Wakashio struck a coral reef resulting in an oil spill of over 1,000 tonnes into the Indian Ocean. The ship was carrying an estimated 4,000 tonnes of oil.

According to reports, it was the area where it happened which was a cause for concern. The accident had taken place near two environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park Reserve, which is a wetland of international importance.

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It can be seen that the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is also considered to be among the largest known accidental oil spills in history. In 2010, starting April 20, more than 4 million barrels of oil were flushed into the Gulf of Mexico over a period of 87 days.

In 2016, a United States Geological Survey (USGS)-NASA study found that the 2010 oil spill led to "widespread" shoreline loss along the heavily oiled areas along Louisiana's coast. "Erosion rates were highest along shorelines documented with heavy to moderate oiling, and were lower along shorelines that experienced low oiling," a USGS release noted.

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With more to be concerned, oil spills affect marine life by exposing them to hazardous elements and destroying their sources of food and habitat.

How will a country clean the oil spills?

From skimming to releasing chemical pispersants, there are a few ways to clean up oil spills. Speaking about skimming, it involves removing oil from the sea surface before it is able to reach the sensitive areas along the coastline.

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    Releasing chemical dispersants helps break down oil into smaller droplets, making it easier for microbes to consume, and further break it down into less harmful compounds.

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