How are animals affected by an oil spill?

Sea Birds

A pelican covered in oil after an oil spill
Seabirds are strongly affected by oil spills. A seabird may get covered in thick oil. This thick black oil is too heavy for the bird to be able to fly so they attempt to clean themselves. The bird then eats the oil as it cleans its feathers and it poisons itself. If cleanup workers find a seabird that is not dead because of the oil they will take the bird to a cleaning centre or put it into a facility where they can recover until they are strong enough to live in the wild on their own again.

Animals that are in captivity because of an oil spill are cleaned by professionals and volunteers. When a bird is in captivity, the oil will be flusjed from its eyes, intestines and feathers. The bird will be examined for more injuries like broken bones and it will take medicine to prevent any more damage.

After the bird seems healthier it will be tested for its ability to float on water and keep water away from its body. As soon as the bird passes the test it will be released back into the wild.

Sea Otters

A sea otter covered in oil
Sea Otters are affected by oil in many ways. The otters' bodies may get covered in oil, which causes build up in the air bubbles of the otters' fur. These air bubbles are help them survive the cold oceans. They act like a covering for their body and help the otters float and stay warm. When oil builds up in the air bubbles, the otters may die of low body temperature.

Many sea otters are being placed in captivity after an oil spill until the otters are cleaned and ready to go back into the ocean again.

Back to Oil Spills menu