The term ‘oil spill’ generally refers to incidents where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters. This can happen through effluent from sewers but most commonly by oil tankers either on purpose or by accident caused by collisions. Oil spills pose a big threat to the marine environment and can also have disastrous economical consequences.
Marine wildlife that must surface to breathe such as turtles, whales, and dolphins are some of the firsts to be affected. Oil clogs the blowholes of whales and dolphins, making it impossible for them to breathe properly and disrupting their ability to communicate. Even if large marine wildlife escape the immediate effects, an oil spill can contaminate their food supply. Oil spills also take a deadly toll on fish, shellfish, and other marine life, particularly if many fish eggs or larvae are exposed to oil.
Economically, oil that is washed to the shore coats the rocks and sands defecting the value of the coastal area. This affects tourism activities of the damaged area until the oil spill is fully cleared.
The severity of environmental damage caused by an oil spill depends on many factors, including the amount of oil spilled, type and weight of oil, location of the spill and species of wildlife in the area. Cleanup, restoring or replacing habitats, species and services back to their original condition can take decades.
Oil spills coat everything they come into contact with and often result in immediate and long-term environmental damage. Thus in the game, this card causes all nature track cards to be discarded down to rock; an apt illustration of the impact of oil spills.