Explained: What are the tarballs that have resurfaced on Mumbai’s beaches?

What is the News?

Recently, black oil-emanating balls also called Tarballs were seen lying on the shore of Mumbai Beach.

What are Tarballs?

Tarballs are dark-coloured, sticky balls of oil that form when crude oil floats on the ocean surface. They are transported from the open sea to the shores by sea currents and waves.

Some of the Tarballs are as big as a basketball, while others are smaller globules. They are usually coin-sized and are found strewn on the beaches

How are Tarballs formed?

Tarballs are formed by weathering of crude oil in marine environments. They are also formed from oil-well blowouts, accidental and deliberate release of bilge and ballast water from ships, river runoff, discharges through municipal sewage and industrial effluents.

What are the Harmful effects associated with Tarballs?

Fishing: Tarballs that travel towards the coast can get stuck to the fishing nets installed in the sea, making it difficult for fishermen to clean.

Marine Life: Tarballs could affect marine life, especially filter feeders like clams and oysters.

Tarball pollution: It is a major concern to the global marine ecosystem. Microbes such as bacteria and fungi are known to be associated with tarballs.

Difficult to Break Down: Tarballs are difficult to break down, and can therefore travel for hundreds of miles in the sea. 

Tourism: Tarballs washed ashore on beaches will negatively affect local economies because tourists will be offended by the odour.

Source: This post is based on the articleExplained: What are the tarballs that have resurfaced on Mumbai’s beaches?published in Indian Express on 16th September 2021.

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