Millions of gallons of toxic fracking chemicals are dumped into the ocean each year.
Dirty energy endangers our ocean in every phase of its extraction, transportation, and usage. Our historic dependency on limited fuel sources benefits a few at the cost of everyone else.
Even before oil and gas can be extracted, the fossil fuel industry poses a serious threat to ocean animals. Seismic airgun blasting, an incredibly dangerous and loud process used to locate oil and gas reserves below the seafloor, has essentially created an acoustic smog throughout the ocean. Marine mammals, who rely heavily on their sense of hearing, are struggling to hunt and breed amidst the deafening cannon blasts. Similarly, more and more coral larvae are dying before reaching its reef home, unable to hear the sound of the bustling reef in the cacophony. The noise does not stop when oil and gas reserves are found, for the drilling and extraction process is equally loud and dangerous.
As global demand for dirty energy increases, the likelihood of accidents and spills grows. Oil pollution, whether in coastal or open waters, is impossible to fully clean up. Crude oil spilled during the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster can still be found along the Prince William sound. Who knows how long it will take to recover from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster? Currents and winds circulate oil and gas pollution throughout the world’s ocean, so no spill is ever really contained. Tides push globs of oil onto beaches where it poisons nesting birds and suffocates sea turtle hatchlings and other burrowing animals. Even the chemical dispersants used to minimize potential shoreline impacts can negatively affect exposed sea life. Marine mammals and sea turtles, who must regularly surface to breathe, are at greater risk of exposure to toxic oil slicks. Oil spills also hinder the breathing progress of sharks and rays, clogging their gills and potentially suffocating them. Animals that depend on fur to keep warm, such as sea otters and polar bears, are often the most immediately impaired by spills, many dying from hypothermia after their coat is covered in oil.
Even if ocean creatures manage to avoid directly swimming in oil slicks, they are still impacted by spills as toxins quickly accumulate in their bodies from consuming contaminated prey— toxins which eventually end up on our plate.