To assess the damage caused by the oil spill across Mumbai coast, two teams of scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) will start a two-year long systematic scientific assessment on Tuesday.
“We will be looking at how both the mangrove and faunal community structures have been damaged and at what pace the oil is going into the ecosystem,” said Deepak Apte, marine biologist and assistant director, BNHS. “We will see how long it takes for species to recolonise.”
Ten scientists will carry out field surveys in Uran and Raigad. Sample collection will be repeated once in 15 days for rapid assessment for the next three months because it will help in identifying a trend.
Following the spill, oil was found accumulating in mangroves at Navi Mumbai, Uran and Alibaug. Tar balls were also found on-shore in Sasvane, Kihim, Revas and Mandava along the Raigad coastline, Uran, Vashi and in pockets of Colaba.
A 15-member team from the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) has also started collecting water and sediment samples from “new in-between areas” such as Thane creek and Vashi; apart from those reported such as Sassoon Dock, Sewri, Colaba and Alibaug.
“We have started analysing the samples collected during the spill. Collection of samples will continue because we could get surprises or may also need to redo the process in some areas,” said Rakesh Kumar, director, NEERI, Mumbai.
BNHS team will study certain groups of mangroves and animals such as telescopic shells and fiddler crabs over two years based on five parameters.
“The next two weeks will be crucial because we will be able to see the mortality of various species. After 15 days, there are chances that the oil may get flushed out slightly,” said Apte.
In the absence of original data, the findings of the study could be incorrect and skewed.
“Even if we start with a zero count, it will be the start count that will be used as baseline for future assessments,” said Apte.