Wildlife affected by oil spills in Columbia and Indonesia

In Columbia, an oil spill is implicated in  the deaths of more than 2,400 fish, birds and reptiles, while in Indonesia the death of an endangered dolphin is being investigated.

According to the Columbian National Agency of Environmental Licences (ANLA), 1,300 animals were rescued alive from oiled waters. Further information regarding how many of each type of animal is not readily available, however, footage from a National Geographic report shows turtles and other reptiles being cleaned.

The oil, which came from a leak at an oil field, followed the course of three rivers (the Magdalena, the Lizama and the Sogamoso) over at least 15 miles, so it is likely that fish suffered the most casualties. One report indicated that some of the rescued animals had already been released.

Although the spill began in early March, containment did not begin for several weeks and the amount of oil spilled is unclear, with reports ranging from 550 barrels to more than 20,000 barrels. Latest reports indicate there is no further leakage from the site.

In Indonesia, a broken undersea pipeline caused an oil spill and fire which resulted in the deaths of four fishermen. At state of emergency has been declared as there is still a significant amount of oil on the water in the port at Balikpapan and response is ongoing.

An endangered Irrawaddy dolphin was found dead in the area of the spill but whether it was killed by the fire and spill has not yet been determined. Biologists from the organisation Rare Aquatic Species Indonesia have taken samples to help determine cause of death. It is not known at this time whether any other animals have been affected.

In every oil spill it is important to study the cause of death when animals are found in oil. In some cases, the animals will have been dead prior to the incident, making the oil is a secondary finding. In other cases, there are clear indicators that oil was the primary cause of death but there also are many instances where it is not possible to determine what role the oil played in the animals’ deaths.

Oi spill kills more than 2,400 animals. 30.March. 2018. National Geographic.
Ecopetrol aún no tiene respuesta sobre causa de brote de crudo en Santander.2. April.2018. RCN Radio.
  “Fueron 550 barriles”: presidente de Ecopetrol responde tras tragedia ambiental en Barrancabermeja. 26.March.2018. Noticias Caracol
Indonesia investigate deadly oil spill in eastern Borneo.3. April.2018. Mongabay News.
Indonesia declares state of emergency as oil spill spreads.3.April.2018. BBC News.