Mumbai oil spill poses severe danger to aquatic life

     Confirming the worst fears of environmentalists, scores of aquatic species and sea birds have been found dead along the Mumbai coast, as a result of an oil spill off the city. A cargo ship spilled oil and containers into the sea following a collision five nautical miles off Mumbai last week. As a result, hundreds of fish and bird species have died after being fatally stranded amid the polluted waters, while many more are reeling from injuries and infections. Local fishermen, who have been advised not to venture out into the sea, are worried since the oil spill and other items from the containers may harm the marine life on which they survive. "I ferry boats and catch fish for a living. But due to the oil spill, I have been unable to venture out into the sea, which is resulting in huge losses. The fishes have died, and even the ones which are living could be infected due to the toxic waters. The government has warned that there could be more containers in the sea, which could also accentuate damage to marine life here," said Abdul Aziz. The formation of a thick layer of poisonous oil in the seawaters has inflicted a distressing blow to the bionomical equilibrium by rendering fishes, turtles and other species immobile due to its high viscosity. Amid the clouds of despair and gloom also shines a ray of hope. Animal lovers in Mumbai have braved their way through the toxic waters to save hundreds of seabirds. "Many species of birds have been admitted here since the past few days, and many animal lovers are bringing infected species for treatment. Many birds have their wings soaked with oil, due to which they are unable to move their limbs and are in excruciating pain. The other common ailment is that many sea birds, whose diet comprises aquatic species, have consumed oil which has adversely affected their digestive tracts," said Manu Santosh, Manager of the Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It may be recalled that two Panamanian ships, MSC Chitra and MV Khalija-III collided five nautical miles off Mumbai on August 7. All crew members were rescued. One ship, which was carrying a cargo of diesel and lubricant oil, capsized triggering an oil slick that has spread to a distance of two nautical miles from the capsized ship. The vessel was carrying 2,662 tonnes of heavy oil in its various tanks and 245 tonnes of diesel oil.

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