Conservationists have raised concerns about the fate of Mangrove forests and several hundred people have been evacuated from homes in coastal areas following an oil spill close to the island of Guimaras, in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines on Friday 3 July 2020. The incident was caused by an explosion on an electricity generating barge on the Iloilo Straight, which separates Guimaras from the city of Iloilo on Panay Island. The barge's owners, AC Energy, initially estimated the oil spilt at about 48 000 litres, but this estimate was subsequently raised to 251 000 by the Philippine Coast Guard, of which about 130 000 was subsequently recovered.
Oil leaking from an electricity generating barge into the Iloilo Straight following an explosion on board on Friday 3 June 2020. EPA.
Oil spills are potentially harmful to marine 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 marine 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 marine 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.
The location of the Iloilo Straight, between the islands of Guimaras and Panay, in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. Google Maps.
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