Oil in Estuaries
When we think about oil pollution in estuaries and along the coasts, many of us think of the giant oil rigs and big spills like the Deepwater Horizon spill last year. But most oil pollution is generally the result of small spills and leaks from boats and ships. When oil comes into shallow waters and marshes, it can coat and smother birds, fish, amphibians and even small mammals. In estuarine marshes and coastal wetlands, oil can sink into mud and sediments and remain there for years and sometimes decades. Oil can still be found in Alaska’s Prince William Sound more than 20 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.
Viewer Tip: Even small motorized boats contribute to oil pollution in our bays and along our coasts. Two-cycle outboard motors—the type most often used by recreational boaters and anglers—release large amounts of unburned fuel-oil mixture into the water. Going fishing or boating? Take time and make sure your outboard motor is clean, primed and tuned.
This information brought to you by Restore America’s Estuaries. Learn more at www.estuaries.org.