Presentation on theme: "The Exxon Valdez oil Spill We will look at: The background history of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill The effects of the spill- particularly to the Sea."— Presentation transcript:
The Exxon Valdez oil Spill We will look at: The background history of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill The effects of the spill- particularly to the Sea Otters Finally, what we can do to prevent another “Exxon Valdez Oil Spill”
What do we want to know? How did the Exxon Valdez oil spill affect Alaskan wildlife, particularly sea otters? How is the wildlife recovering? Is there any long-term damage? What do we think? We believe that the Exxon Valdez oil spill had several negative impacts on Alaska’s wildlife, and we believe the wildlife is still being negatively impacted today.
Let’s look at the Exxon Valdez At 4 minutes past midnight on March 24, 1989, The Exxon Valdez loaded 1,264,155 barrels of North Slope crude oil, on the Bligh Reef in the northeastern portion of Prince William Sound. About 1/5 th of the total cargo, that’s 11.2 million gallons, spilled into the sea. This was the LARGEST tanker spill in the United States history!!
What went wrong… The Exxon Valdez Oil Tanker ran aground due to the failure of the 3 rd mate to properly maneuver the vessel because of impairment from alcohol, fatigue, excessive workload and inadequate navigation equipment. The Exxon Shipping company did not provide proper equipment and an adequate rested crew.
More Trouble… The captain of the ship, Joseph Hazelwood, was seen drinking with the crew in several bars immediately before boarding the ship. The ship had been diverted from normal traffic lanes, presumably to avoid icebergs. And most importantly, there was a lack of proper navigational systems. Valdez Alaska
And the jury says… Federal appeals court Ruled that they pay $5.3 billion in Punitive damages. The Exxon Corporation asked the judge to set a lower amount- they felt it was unfair to have to pay for the oil spill by Congress and then pay the fisherman, etc. As a result, in 1994 Exxon was ordered to pay damages to 33,000 commercial fisherman, Alaskan natives, property owners and others harmed. Oil Spill Recovery Teams
More Rulings….. Hazelwood was put on trial and found not guilty for operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol. He was ordered to pay a fine and complete 1000 hours of community service. Hazelwood and Third Mate Gregory Cousins both resigned.
More on Exxon Valdez This map shows how widely distributed the oil was- the area in red shows where the oil spilled. Approximately 1300 miles of beaches were oiled. Even though, this horrific event took place in 1989, we are still cleaning up the waters today.
How was the oil cleaned up? Barges were sent out to deploy containment booms around the tanker to prevent the oil from spreading too far. They were delayed and took 12 hours to reach the scene. Skimmers were sent out to skim the layer of oil from the surface of the water. Some of the oil was burned away. High-pressure hot-water hoses and chemical cleaners were used to blast the oil off the beaches.
The Effects of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill on Alaskan Wildlife Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Cleanup efforts
Positive Human Impact This rescuer saved a baby sea otter from an oil spill.
What happened to the animals? Several rehabilitation centers were opened to care for oiled and injured animals. Animals were washed with Dawn dishwashing soap to remove oil from their feathers and fur. After a short period of rehabilitation, animals were released into unoiled areas.
The Effects on the Sea Otters The oil slicks on the surface are especially dangerous to the fur bearing sea otters. The oil interferes with the otters ability to maintain its body temperature which results in death from hypothermia.
Sea Otter Effects continued The oil produces organ failure – most commonly lung and kidney problems Destroys reproductive systems – animals can no longer reproduce Volatile components of oil can remain in the water for many years Oil compounds can enter and contaminate food sources.
Causes of Death Among Sea Otters Following the Spill in Prince William Sound
Interpreting the Data The spill was responsible for the death of a large number of sea otters. It is estimated that only 20% of the otters that died in the Prince William Sound were actually recovered. This estimate more than triples the mortality of the otters following the spill. It is believed that some otters could have died after being released from rehabilitation, due to long-term injuries or stress from being re- introduced into an unfamiliar area.
Sea Otter Population Surveys in Prince William Sound Before and After the Spill
Interpreting the Data The overall trend of the graph shows a decrease in sea otter population from 1984 to July of 1991. The continuing downward trend of otter population numbers suggests that exposure to oil had long-term effects on the otters. Two years after the spill, their numbers remained on the downward trend.
Recovery Rates Among Wildlife Affected by the Spill
RECOVERY A species is said to be recovered when they return to the status quo before the spill This concept, however, is hard to grasp, since the status quo of many species before the spill is unknown.
Non-Recovering Wildlife Common Loon Cormorants Harbor Seal Harlequin Ducks Pacific Herring Pigeon Guillemot These animals, in oiled areas of the sound have shown no increase back to their populations pre-spill.
Recovering Wildlife Clams Killer Whale Marbled Murrelets Mussels Sea Otters These animals are stable or increasing in non- oiled areas, however are not increasing in oiled areas.
Recovered Wildlife Bald Eagle Common Murre Pink Salmon River Otter Sockeye Salmon These animals have no lasting injuries from the oil spill.
Recovery of Sea Otters Since 1993 the population of sea otters as a whole has been increasing in the Prince William Sound However, the most heavily oiled bays in the western part of the sound are not showing signs of recovery
Recovery of Sea Otters continued Studies show that a sea otters in the western part of the sound have much slower reproductive rates in comparison to the rest of the sound. We can therefore infer that today the oil continues to hinder sea otter recovery, as it still affects their reproductive cycles.
The Age of Sea Otters Since the Exxon Valdez oil spill, there has been an increase in the death rate of young sea otters. The developing organs of newborn sea otters are inhibited by the toxicity of the oil and have led to an increased death rate among newborn an juvenile Sea otters.
Recovery of Sea Otters continued The destruction of their environment and depletion of food sources is also hindering recovery today. During clean up efforts, many shorelines were destroyed from high pressure and hot water. The sediments many small animals depend on were no longer available to support them. Consequently, much of the food sea otters depended on could no longer support the sea otter population.
Recovery of Sea Otters continued In April 2002 nineteen carcasses were recovered in the western shore of the sound. Liver samples taken from the carcasses indicated high levels of an enzyme associated with oil exposure.
Analysis of the effects of oil on Sea Otters Immediately following the spill, the death rate among sea otters soared. This can be blamed directly on the spill itself. With 28 beach acres contaminated by 15, 850 gallons of oil today, sea otters are still exposed its dangers. Today, the recovery of sea otter carcasses still occurs. The devastation of their population has made people more aware of the disaster that such a huge oil spill creates.
the result of the spill… The U.S. Coast Guard now monitors fully laden tankers via satellite as they pass through Valdez Narrows. Weather criteria for safe navigation have been firmly Established. Congress enacted legislation requiring that all tankers in Prince William Sound be double- hulled by the year 2015.
Improvements in Prevention Two escort vessels follow every tanker on either side, equipped to assist in case a spill should occur Drills regularly occur every year. Over 300,000 barrels of oil are now able to be cleaned up in a 72 hour period Now there are barges able to hold 818, 000 barrels of recovered oil.
Conclusion The plight of the Otter is based on a complicated and intertwined ecosystem of which man plays a key role. It is up to us to protect and assure the continued existence of Otters and all species on this planet.