5 Ways Hydrocarbons Devastate Ecosystems

Beaches always connote tranquillity – an idyllic symphony of land, sea and biodiversity; however, this matrimony of nature is all too often disrupted.

Oil Spills are regrettably common around the world, releasing liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the oceans – a substance that is subsequently deposited onto beaches or shorelines; causing mass pollution.

Hydrocarbon contamination is a serious global issue due to contaminant persistence and its negative impact on human, as well as animal health. In honour of Clean Beaches Week, we thought it appropriate to explore the five ways in which oil spills devastate our planet’s ecosystem;

1. For most mammals, fur is fundamental to their thermoregulation process; direct contact with oil destroys their ability to insulate – thus exposing the creatures to the harsh elements. Unable to repel water or maintain their core temperature – seabirds and mammals, such as otters, beavers, seals and polar bears, will die from hypothermia.

2. Inhaling hydrocarbon vapours may result in lung injuries for mammals; oil also causes serious irritation to an animal’s sensitive mucous membrane and eyes. Consuming the substance as they attempt to groom themselves or feed on contaminated prey, causes digestive tract bleeding, resulting in liver and kidney damage. There is some evidence that oil’s toxic effects on polar bears include an inability to produce red blood cells.

3. Some of the most devastating pictures after big oil spills are of seabirds coated in black sludge – however, a new study has revealed that a mere smudge of oil is enough to upset the aerodynamic potential of the creature – forcing it to use more energy during flight. This prevents the bird from reaching its breeding ground in time, thus threatening the animal’s reproductive success.

4. Although they may not be exposed immediately; fish and shellfish come into contact with oil if it is mixed into the water column. When exposed to oil, adult fish may experience reduced growth, enlarged livers, changes in heart and respiration rates, fin erosion, and reproduction impairment. Oil also adversely affects eggs and larval survival.

5. The loss of key organisms with a specific function within a community, also aggravates drastic ecological changes. Sometimes, the vacating species is replaced by another that generally assimilates with the previous role within the ecosystem – in which case, the alterations may not be incredibly drastic. In other instances; a community is replaced by organisms performing completely different functions – thereby transforming the ecosystem’s dynamics in a detrimental way.

There is a Solution!

Despite these, restoration is not futile; extensive research and detailed post-spill studies have shown that even major oil spills will rarely cause permanent effects. Although ecosystems have high natural variability and resilience – it should still be our priority to clean the spillages to the best of our abilities.

With over 120 billion bacteria CFU, our eco tabs will digest hydrocarbon sludge naturally. This unique blend of specific non-pathogenic bacteria is chosen to do a certain job – in this case, consume pollutants. Once the bacteria has digested all of the hydrocarbons, they die off and are washed away. The by-products of the non-pathogenic bacteria are 95% water and 5% carbon dioxide; making it 100% environmentally friendly –completely safe for all aquatic wildlife.

For more information, visit: www.eco-wmt.co.uk/hydrocarbons