Cleaning up oil spills in the ocean.
Oil spills are a huge issue, especially in the ocean. What happens when a tanker spills oil off the coast of Arabian Gulf? The best way to clean it up? What is the worst that can happen?
Within the last few decades, there have plenty of significant oil spills that could have left ecosystems devastated with damage. Among these are Exxon Valdez in 1989, the Prestige in 2002, and Deepwater horizon in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. The oil spill in 2010 was the largest one ever recorded in history. Here 168 million gallons of oil were spilt into the ocean. There are a few ways to handle oil spills like barricading the area to stop the spread of the oil and adding chemicals to speed up the breakdown of the oil. However, these solutions have drawbacks. Conditions such as high winds and rough seas can destroy the barriers and chemicals have the potential of causing their own problems to ecosystems.
Ocean oil spills clean Up.
Some naturally occurring bacteria living in the environment can naturally consume hydrocarbons in oil spills. Alcanivorax and Marinobacter are among the hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria that have been isolated. Microscopic algae are some of the most important organisms on earth. They can live in both freshwater and marine ecosystems and produce around half of the world’s oxygen through photosynthesis. The algae are also known to produce compounds (oleophilic) with a strong liking for oils – like long-chain fatty acids and alcohols. They have been reported to host the bacteria that can digest these complex hydrocarbons.
With the help of the hydrocarbon-digesting bacteria, only around 22% oil spilt in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 remained, the rest was broken down by the bacteria. Scientists often fertilize oil spills with nitrogen and phosphorus to help fuel bacterial growth, and the naturally occurring bacteria can eat away some of the spill.
More research has to be done in regards to the bacteria that breakdown the oil as well as finding other strains that can do the job more efficiently. The ultimate goal is to breakdown 100% of the oil spill without compromising the ecosystems that are in contact
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