Oil spills threaten marine life | Way of life

What many seem to be old news is concerning today. After Typhoon Dolphin hit Guam in 2015, a sunken fishing boat reportedly leaked diesel fuel off Sasa Bay.

The Guam Sector, Guam Police Department and Naval Explosive Ordnance Division responded to the spill, according to news reports at the time. However, Marianas Yacht Club sailor Mike McCue says he believes oil from the 2015 spill was still present in Sasa Bay in 2021.

A common concern that many environmentalists have about oil spills is the effect it can have on marine environments. Sasa Bay is rich in wildlife, including green sea turtles, or haggan, which lay eggs in Piti.

Turtles are coastal creatures, meaning they swim close to the surface of the ocean and are therefore likely to swallow oil that is less dense than water.

Or, oil can seep into corals and either smother the living marine system on the reef or release oil when animals, like crabs and parrotfish, eat cnidarian, an aquatic invertebrate.

Larger animals eat crabs and parrotfish, consuming the harmful oils – this is called biological fattening.

The end result: humans who eat fish are susceptible to the harmful oils their meal has been exposed to.

For all flora and fauna, diesel fuel can spread through the nervous system and kill cells that allow movement and other bodily functions.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has recommended these steps if you ever encounter an oil spill: control the spill, keep animals away from the spill, and rescue oiled animals.

To control the spill, gather objects that can act as absorbents or prevent liquids from spreading from the affected area. Try to remember where and how the spill happened for later reports.

Next, make sure animals in the area do not come near the oil. This can be done by making loud noises or scaring off approaching animals.

If there are any animals that have been affected by the spill, try to catch them or remember what they look like to report to professionals later.

Finally, any spills encountered should always be reported, either to the Coast Guard or another agency responsible for spill control.

Professional responders, such as the Guam Coast Guard sector, are finding the extent and direction in which the oil has drifted. This helps professionals judge the extent of the spill and prevent oil from floating in larger areas.

But not all oil is collected. How can we, as living and dependent citizens of the Earth, ensure that no other plants or animals are harmed by our actions?

There is no one answer, but what we can do is report and make sure we are not responsible for oil spills.

Miwa Gudmundsen is a student at St. John’s and a reporting intern on PDN Vibe. She also works at the University of Guam Marine Laboratory as an intern, working with university scientists on projects such as studying the sensitivity of corals to heat stress. You can reach her at [email protected]

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