Oil Spill in Antarctic

Now that the tourists are safely away from their freezing escape from the sinking Explorer in the antarctic it’s clear the news is not over. Under 1500 meters of water the ship is releasing its 50,000 gallons of diesel, 6,300 gallons of lubricant and 260 gallons of gasoline. Though diesel is the least dangerous of petroleum by products this is not to say the potential hazards to marine life are insignificant.

About 2,500 penguins en route to their Antarctic mating grounds could be sickened by a diesel fuel spill from a cruise boat that struck an iceberg and sank last week, Chilean scientists said Friday.

Areas surrounding the mile-long spill site include breeding grounds for Antarctic and Adelia penguins, and the largest mating colony for Papua penguins, said Maria Jose Rosello, a Chilean marine biologist.

“The danger is that this fuel spill will impede the journey that species like Papua penguins make at this time of year,” Rosello said.

Veronica Vallejos, director of the scientific department at the Chilean Antarctic Institute, said the spill could also affect other Antarctic fauna, including sea lions, seals and sea birds as well as fish, krill, algae and plankton colonies — key elements of the Antarctic food chain.

Oil In the Antarctic

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