An oil spill is the accidental petroleum release into the environment. On land, oil spills are usually localized and thus their impact can be eliminated relatively easily. In contrast, marine oil spills may result in oil pollution over large areas and present serious environmental hazards. The primary source of accidental oil input into seas is associated with oil transportation by tankers and pipelines (about 70%), whereas the contribution of offshore drilling and production activities is minimal (less than 1%). Large and catastrophic spills releasing more than 30,000 tons of oil are relatively rare events and their frequency in recent decades has decreased perceptibly. Yet, such episodes, like the current one in the Gulf of Mexico, have the potential to cause the most serious ecological risk, primarily for sea birds and mammals. They result in long-term environmental disturbances and economic impact on coastal activities, especially on fisheries and mariculture.
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