How vulnerable is Indian coast to oil spills? Impact of MV Ocean Seraya oil spill
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On 30 May 2006, a bulk carrier, MV Ocean Seraya ran aground along the Karwar coast spilling 650 tonnes of oil. Due to the rough SW monsoon, the spill spread to some beaches in south Goa. The aim of this communication is to study the immediate impact of oil spill on benthic ecology. It is also reviewed that the impact of frequent spills on the benthic community in particular, and marine fishery in general. Intertidal sampling was carried out on 10 June 2006. Organic carbon (1%) and petroleum hydrocarbon (13 mu g g sup(-1)) were highest at Polem, as it was closest to the spill site. Twenty macrobenthic taxa which included crustaceans and bivalves were identified. Although the study is based on short-term sampling, it showed an increase in petroleum hydrocarbon in the sediment. A review of the oil spill data indicates that accidental spills have shown a decline globally, in contrast to increase in maritime transport. However, a reverse trend was observed along the Indian coast for the Arabian Sea. Further, majority of the spills occurred during the SW monsoon period, which coincided with the recruitment period of most commercial and non-commercial species. Therefore, although the spills occurring along the west coast are of small volume, frequent occurrence, particularly during the critical stages of the life cycle of organism, may have a long-term impact on the marine biota.
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