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Mumbai: Seabirds bear brunt of oil spill

August 17, 2010 15:41 IST

The oil spill off Mumbai's coast has begun affected the marine life, as seen in a few instances at the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals hospital at Parel.

As the spilled oil is flowing onto the shores, activists and locals have been bringing in marine birds to the veterinary hospital for treatment.

While most of the birds have been released after being given medication, a crane and a duck are still at the hospital.

The two birds would be released soon, as they may get infected if kept too long at the hospital premises, said SPCA secretary Lt Col (Retd) J C Khanna.

Khanna said they are expecting more birds to be brought in the next few days as the oil has reached the shores.

How does an oil spill affect marine animals?

An oil spill has the most devastating effect on marine animals. The oil forms a layer on the bodies of fishes and seals, hampering their ability to insulate themselves and leading to fluctuations in their body temperatures.

While some marine animals die due to hypothermia, others ingest the oil and are killed due to dehydration. The oil also covers the surface of the water body and blocks the sunlight from permeating the sea levels and reaching underwater fauna, hampering their growth.

Sea birds also meet a similar tragic end after an oil spill. The sticky oil covers their feathers and when the birds try to clean themselves, they end up ingesting the oil and suffering from poisoning.

Though the oil does evaporate or dissipate finally, some residue will be left behind on the flood of the ocean and it will continue to affect wildlife.

Images: The rescued crane and duck at SPCA hospital in Parel | Photographs: Uttam Ghosh