Think of a place which abounds in life, life forms of all varieties possible, both in the land and in the water. And then a day comes in that safe haven and all the plants and animals become sick and start to die. This, even if not in that catastrophic a sense, has just recently happened in the largest mangrove forest in the world. On the 9th of December 2014, a large oil tanker carrying furnace oil clashed with another cargo vessel, sunk in the water body of the forest Sundarbans and all of the approximately 350 thousand liters of oil spread throughout the place. All but the captain of the tanker was able to swim ashore. The associated loss in monetary terms has been estimated to be around BDT 1 billion/- .
Till now, only a fraction of the total amount of oil has been recovered by the local people of the Sundarbans. But this is not a very safe way of extraction and poses serious health hazards for those involved in the process of using clothes to get the oil which demands direct contact of skin with the furnace oil. The Bangladesh government said that they do not have sufficient facilities for tackling such oil spills.
The oil has seeped from the Shela river to another river within the forest and blackened its shoreline. To make matters worse, the place where the tanker sunk, is a home to some rare species of dolphins. Already one dolphin corpse has been spotted floating in the river water. A number of crabs have also been found dead. The ‘catastrophe’ (according to some experts) is also affecting the food cycle, as it is killing the micro-organisms.
Along with other endeavors to help Bangladesh get over this catastrophe, an US-based non-profit Water Defense, founded by award-winning American actor Mark Ruffalo came forward. They have taken up a crowd-funding initiative by Indiegogo to send an expert team with a sufficient quantity of open-celled foam, (OPFLEX), which acts as synthetic eel-grass, to clean up the oil spill. To know more about this initiative and to donate, please take a look at this video they made.
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