Mearns Rock in 1990


What You See

In this photograph, taken 15 months after the spill, you see only the top portion of the boulder because the tide was in at the time that the photo was taken. The boulder's surface is almost entirely covered by young plants of the algae Fucus gardneri (commonly called "rockweed" or "popweed"), which is abundant on the shorelines of Prince William Sound. On the right section of the boulder (the area of white color) is a settlement of young barnacles. The dark patch (on the right section) is a colony of small mussels.

1990 Quadrat

In this photograph, you can see the young Fucus plants that almost covered the boulder in 1990, as well as young barnacles, which appear as tiny, white spots. We think the dark region in the upper right section of the quadrat may be young mussels.

What's Happening

No oil appears on the boulder because biological processes have cleared it away. NOAA biologists assume that adult Fucus plants that were present at the time of the spill were damaged by the oil and/or the particularly cold temperatures of the previous winter. Young Fucus have grown since that time.