On the morning of November 7th, 2007, California’s San Francisco Bay became the unfortunate dumping ground for 58,000 gallons of oil, gushing from the hull of a cargo ship that ran into a bridge. Oil slicks and greasy balls were found along 64 miles of shoreline. Hundreds of seabirds were rescued or found dead. Four days later, a fierce storm sunk several freighters in the Kerch Strait between the Black Sea and Azov Sea. The result was that a half million gallons of fuel oil washed up on the shores of Russia and Ukraine and thousands of dead birds and countless other marine fish and wildlife.
The devastation from oil spills can go much deeper than what happens on the surface and can last for decades. Environments that can become most contaminated are shallow areas where oil can penetrate into sediments. Furthermore, severe wave action may mix the toxic oil throughout the water column and extend to bottom-dwelling species such as crabs, clams, mussels and burrowing species, which are important prey for fish.
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Compiled by the Marine Photobank.