Monday 27 July 2020

Beaches in United Arab Emirates closed by oil spill.

Beaches on the coast of the United Arab Emirates around Sharjah have been closed due to a oil slick described as being about 3 km in length washed ashore on Sunday 26 July 2020. The cause of the slick is unclear, but it is thought likely to have been caused by a ship (illegally) cleaning its tanks in international waters; this is the third such slick to wash onto beaches in the nation this year. It is likely to take several days to clear the oil from the beach, during which time the beaches in the area will remain closed until the clean-up operation has been completed.

Oil washed up on Kalba Beach in Sharjah, on Sunday 26 July 2020. Hisn Kalba/Instagram.

Oil spills are potentially harmful to aquatic life in a variety of ways. Most obviously it can coat the outside of organisms, causing damage to external structures such as the feathers of Birds and fur of Mammals, as well as smothering many aquatic invertebrates and plants. It also contains a variety of chemicals which can be directly toxic upset the hormonal balance of many animals. Oil also impedes the feeding of aquatic organisms, coating both food and feeding organs, but provides an excellent food source for Bacteria, which can lead to Eutrophication events - dramatic increases in Bacteria numbers, which then use all the oxygen in the water, leading other organisms to asphyxiate.

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