The environment suffers from the impact of offshore drilling in several ways. Greenhouse gases, noise, and contamination caused by accidental oil spills during the drilling process can have long-term, catastrophic consequences for entire marine ecosystems. They threaten fauna ranging from crustaceans and birds to whales and polar bears.
Oil-contaminated Food Chain
Spills of oil, gas, diesel or hydraulic fluid into the environment contaminate all forms of marine life. Countless species of marine and coastal animals are negatively affected by the presence of these harmful substances. No one is spared – plankton, crustaceans, fish, sea turtles and birds, and mammals, etc.
Contact with oil can damage animals’ skin and internal organs. In addition, petrochemicals can have long-term effects on the immune and reproductive systems of marine animals, destroying entire populations across the food chain. Contaminated animals that serve as food can cause poisoning to other animals that feed on them. Walruses, Arctic seals, and beluga whales are at high risk. They all feed on smaller marine species.
Sound Pollution Threatens Whales Like Dynamite
The extremely disturbing effect is caused by sound-based seismic technology. Loud explosions of oil and gas locators under the ocean floor are repeated every 10 seconds, 24 hours a day, for weeks at a time. These sonic, seismic surveys can be as loud and destructive as dynamite. They can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss in some marine species to whales and dolphins.
Arctic Animals the Most Affected
Oil spills have already affected Arctic animal populations, forcing polar bears to change their hunting habits. These animals are apex predators at the end of the food chain. Offshore drilling, therefore, poses a potential threat to polar bears’ food sources. They can ingest contaminated animals.
Polar bears are also at risk of being buried, buried alive, or injured by equipment used to mine fossil fuels. Female polar bears will die in dens to protect their cubs rather than leave their dens, even when their own lives are seriously threatened.
Source: https://www.greenmatters.com/p/offshore-drilling-affect-marine-life, featured photo by Guilherme Reis from Pixabay