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What effects does offshore drilling have on marine communities - Research Paper Example

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Offshore drilling is the process whereby drilling of oil is conducted in the ocean.This is an economic activity,which has been in existence for the last at least forty years and it has proved to be of great economic viability as the demand for oil and its products have been growing significantly…
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What effects does offshore drilling have on marine communities
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Offshore drilling is the process whereby drilling of oil is conducted in the ocean. This is an economic activity, which has been in existence for the last at least forty years and it has proved to be of great economic viability as the demand for oil and its products have been growing significantly thereby putting pressure on oil producers to devise new ways and technology to produce sufficient oil enough to sustain the demand (Sterling, 2003). However, this activity has continued to attract opposition from various quarters such as the environmentalists due to the threats it pauses towards marine life and those communities that depend on the ocean as their major source of revenue. Offshore drilling has been noted to produce high levels of pollutants mainly in form drilling mud and other trash, which affects the natural environment suitable for the survival of ocean creatures such as whales and dolphins, which are a great attraction for tourists both local and international (Savitz et al, n.d). If this continues for a long time, these beautiful creatures would have to look for better places to occupy which may result to them receding from the coastline thereby moving far away where it would become more costly and tedious for tourists to access. If this happens, then, investors such as hoteliers, boat operators and other small business people operating within the coast line would have to suffer low returns on investment thereby ruining their businesses. Despite the fact that a lot of care and technicalities are involved in making sure that the process of offshore drilling is free from oil spills, it is imperative to note that accidents can and do occur leading to the spilling of large quantities of oil into the water, either in the process of transporting oil from the drilling point or as a result of the drilling system malfunctioning. Some of the examples include the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. In the 1989 oil spill, an oil tanker transporting oil from the ocean to Long beach in California had an accident that led to the spilling of not less than 10.8 million gallons of oil into the ocean. According to reports, more than 1000 miles of coastline were affected among other negative effects such as the death of various species of marine life such as fish, sea otters, birds, and ducks among others. In the same event, it is estimated that there was a significant reduction of tourists of approximately 9000 visitors (Savitz et al, n.d). The BP oil spill on the other hand is considered as the worst to ever occur in the US history. Approximately 4.9 barrels of crude oil were released to the ocean, an occurrence which highly affected the marine life as well as people who depend on marine life for their livelihood, especially along the Louisianan coast, Mississippi and Alabama (Juhasz, 2011). This is due to the fact that the authorities closed off approximately 87000 square miles of federal waters from fishing as a measure to guarantee the safety of food gotten from the ocean (Juhasz, 2011). In such a context, the fishermen would have to find an alternative source of income whereas sea food prices in the hotels and restaurants would have to go up thereby raising the cost of living and levels of poverty. In addition, it would become extremely uncomfortable and dangerous, health wise, for these people to live or work within the vicinity of the polluted water due to the foul smell produced by the spilt oil. This may be made worse by the fact that oil contains chemicals which can be fed on indirectly after feeding on fish and other organisms, which have ingested such toxins or through inhalation after evaporation of volatile components of oil. Such people may suffer from respiratory infections, headaches, and post traumatic disorders among others (Savitz et al, n.d). References Juhasz, A. (2011). Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill, Wiley Savitz, J., Short, J., & Veach, M. (n.d). Toxic Legacy. Retrieved 24 May 2011, from http://na.oceana.org/sites/default/files/reports/Toxic_Legacy_FINAL.pdf Sterling, G. (2003). Deepwater Petroleum Exploration & Production: A Nontechnical Guide, Pennwell Publishers Read More
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