Large scale damage to mangrove forests following two large oil spills in Panama

Duke, Norman C., Pinzón, Zulelka S., and Prada, Martha C. (1997) Large scale damage to mangrove forests following two large oil spills in Panama. Biotropica, 29 (1). pp. 2-14.

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Abstract

Mangrove forests of Bahía Las Minas on the Caribbean coast of Panama were affected by large oil spills twice over the last 30 yr. Lethal and sublethal damage to these mangroves by the two spills was assessed on aerial photographs and in the field. The first spill occurred in 1968 when the tanker Witwater broke-up and sunk, releasing 2.8-3.8 million liters of diesel oil and Bunker C fuel oil, and killing 49 ha of mangroves or 4 percent of mangroves in the bay. The second was in 1986 when a land tank at the Refinería Panamá ruptured, releasing at least 8 million liters of crude oil, and killing 69 ha of mangroves or 6 percent of those in the bay. In each case, the areas affected most were the low to mid intertidal zone dominated by Rhizophora mangle. The extent and location of deforestation was site- and spill-specific, notably influenced by prevailing wind and tidal conditions. Some areas were deforested twice. Possible sublethal damage to surviving forests was assessed for the 1986 spill, noting that areas of unusually 'open' canopy exceeded 307 ha. Field studies, reported elsewhere, confirmed that canopy leaf biomass decreased in 'open' canopy sites where oil concentrations in surrounding sediments increased. Therefore, in 1986, a further 34 percent of mangrove forests in the bay probably suffered damage from oiling, and the sum of these partially damaged forests plus the deforested areas more closely represents the total area of damage. It appears that only 18 percent of trees oiled in this bay eventually died, and the total area of damaged mangroves after the large 1986 oil spill was 5-6 times greater than the deforested areas alone.

Item ID: 48904
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1744-7429
Keywords: mangrove; habitat; plants; deforestation; sublethal; area; remote sensing; mapping; oil spill; pollution; impact; Panama; Caribbean; Central America; Atlantic; AEP
Funders: Department of the Interior, US, Marine Spill Response Corporation
Date Deposited: 11 May 2017 05:59
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment @ 40%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring @ 30%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 30%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9612 Rehabilitation of Degraded Environments > 961201 Rehabilitation of Degraded Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 30%
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