Worldwide, about 210 million gallons of petroleum enter the sea each year from the extraction, transportation, and consumption of crude oil and the products refined from it. Most of that petroleum comes from land-based runoff, polluted rivers, airplanes, and small boats and jet skis. Smaller amounts come from accidental spills from oil tankers and platforms. Another an additional 180 million gallons enters the ocean from natural seeps. Large oil spills can be devastating to the marine environment. They kill fish, mammals, birds, and their offspring; destroy plant life; and reduce the food supply for organisms that survive. Spills also disrupt the structure and function of marine communities and ecosystems.
When observed from a boat or aircraft, many kinds of natural phenomena can be mistaken for oil on the water surface. Kelp beds, accumulations of jellyfish, and cloud shadows on...
Oil spillLast Updated on 2013-02-26 at 12:20
**Read about the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.**
An oil spill is the accidental petroleum release into the environment. On land, oil... More »
Deepwater Horizon oil spill Last Updated on 2013-02-22 at 12:42
Revised 15 October 2010
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (also known as the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill or the BP Oil Spill) is the largest marine oil spill... More »
Exxon Valdez oil spillLast Updated on 2013-02-20 at 12:30
Read about the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez, en route from Valdez, Alaska to Los... More »
Greenpoint Oil SpillLast Updated on 2013-01-13 at 20:23
The Greenpoint Oil Release, so named because the series of oil spills occurred in Greenpoint, NY is presumed to be among the largest releases... More »
PinnipedLast Updated on 2013-01-06 at 17:32
Pinnipeds ("finned-feet") are are group of marine mammals, that includes seals, sea lions, and walruses. The word pinniped is sometimes treated as a synonym for... More »