Prince William's Oily Mess: A Tale of Recovery
How does an ecosystem
recover from a major
one-time insult such as an oil spill?
OR&R, NOAA; Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council; Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research
you will learn from this Discovery
Story, the answer is not simple.
It isn't easy to determine whether a
particular area of shoreline has recovered
from oiling during a spill, or how to
expect it to look when it has.
In March 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh Reef in
Alaska’s Prince William Sound, rupturing its hull and spilling nearly 11
million gallons of crude oil. It remains the largest oil spill ever to occur in U.S. waters.
Watch & Discover: An
Oil Spill Trajectory Model - Computer simulation of how oil traveled across Prince William Sound during the first week after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
To learn how Prince William Sound is recovering
from this environmental shock, NOAA scientists
have conducted a monitoring study there since 1990. Even today, these scientists
and others are trying to answer the following questions:
How did the oil impact marine life
and their habitats?
the massive cleanup operations
actually cause more harm than good?
much oil remains in Prince William Sound?
All the facts aren't yet in, but here you can read about how NOAA biologists
have been monitoring the long-term effects of this major spill on marine life,
the various cleanup efforts, and the recovery of Prince William
Sound ever since that unfortunate day.
What did the Exxon Valdez teach us about oil spill response?
- Has Prince William Sound recovered from the spill?
You can analyze the Mearns Rock Time Series, which is a sequence of photos of the same oiled rock in Prince William Sound. The photos were taken once each year since the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred there. You can try your hand at working with some real data collected by scientists at Mearns Rock, and answer the question:
How did the Exxon Valdez oil spill
affect the abundance of marine life on
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