In the Celtic Sea, oil pollution threatens seabirds
A recent study conducted by theUniversity College Cork reveals that a tiny part of oil is enough to damage sea bird feathers. The group of researchers made a feather picking of Manx shearwaters considered to be threatened by oil pollution. On the one hand, they seek to measure the rate at which water penetrates through feathers after significant oil exposure.
On the other hand, they try to determine structural changes after contamination. The feathers were examined with high power microscopes. English shearwater is a species of bird spending most of their life at sea. For this reason, he represents the ideal candidate for the study. Indeed, in search of food, they take advantage of the air currents generated by the waves to fly over the surface of the water.
They are also excellent swimmers. Sometimes they dive from the air to catch deep-sea fish.
Feathers no longer fulfill their roles due to layers of oil
The results reveal that extremely thin layers of oils 0.1 and 3 micrometers had a devastating effect on the structure of feathers and their tightness. For comparison, this equals less than one percent of the thickness of a hair.
In addition, other studies show that birds exposed to oil are more likely to becoming waterlogged, cold and losing buoyancy. Indeed, the microstructure of the feather agglomerates after exposure to oil, allowing water to pass more easily.
Serious consequences for the health and survival of seabirds
Crude oil is occasionally spilled in the sea accidentally and not just in Ireland. The Exxon Valdez and Sea Empress spills illustrate this well. Dare moderate amounts are regularly released into the environment due to mining and transportation activities.
Thus, even in moderate volume, they can easily cover large areas of the sea. oil represents a considerable danger for the population of birds and other marine species.
“Chronic small-scale oil pollution is often overlooked in the marine environment, yet it has been shown to have serious consequences for the health and survival of seabirds. species, but the results can be extended to other species that rely on waterproofing to stay healthy when at sea for long periods of time.”
Emma Murphy, lead author of the study