Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Exxon Valdez Oil Found In Tidal Feeding Grounds Of Ducks, Sea Otters

Date:
May 16, 2006
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Seventeen years after the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska's Prince William Sound, compelling new evidence suggests that remnants of the worst oil spill in U.S. history extend farther into tidal waters than previously thought, increasing the probability that the oil is causing unanticipated long-term harm to wildlife. The study appears today on the Web site of the American Chemical Society journal, Environmental Science & Technology.

Seventeen years after the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska's Prince William Sound, compelling new evidence suggests that remnants of the worst oil spill in U.S. history extend farther into tidal waters than previously thought, increasing the probability that the oil is causing unanticipated long-term harm to wildlife. The finding appears today on the Web site of the American Chemical Society's journal, Environmental Science & Technology.

Related Articles


The study, by research chemist Jeffrey Short and colleagues at the National Marine Fisheries Service in Juneau, Alaska, is also scheduled to appear in the June 15 print issue of the journal.

"This study shows that it is very plausible that exposure to Exxon Valdez oil is having a material impact on many shore-dwelling animals and is contributing to their slow recovery in some parts of Prince William Sound," Short says. "Sea otters, for instance, have yet to re-inhabit Herring Bay, the most oiled bay we studied, and the population of otters elsewhere around northern Knight Island continues to decline. Unfortunately, because much of this oil is buried in beach sediments and not exposed to weathering and other elements that might degrade it, it could remain hazardous to wildlife for decades."

The Exxon Valdez stuck an underwater rock formation on March 24, 1989, spilling 11 million gallons of heavy crude oil into the Sound over the next several days. Despite massive clean-up efforts, Short estimates about six miles of shoreline is still affected by the spill and as much as 100 tons of oil lingers in the Sound.

In their study, Short and his colleagues found significant amounts of Exxon Valdez oil buried in sand and silt that only becomes dry during the lowest tides. This biologically diverse zone is a prime feeding ground for sea otters, ducks and other wildlife.

Previously, scientists believed most of the oil was deposited on beaches at higher tide levels.

The researchers randomly dug 662 pits along 32 stretches of shoreline on northern Knight Island, one of the earliest and worst affected areas during the spill. They found Exxon Valdez oil at 14 of the 32 sites. Although oil was spread throughout the tidal range, about half of it was found in the low tide zone, where predators could encounter it while searching for prey. More than 90 percent of the surface oil and all of the subsurface oil was from the Exxon Valdez, Short says.

Based on these findings, the researchers estimated that in a given year, a sea otter -- digging three pits a day searching for clams and other prey -- would probably come into contact with Exxon Valdez oil at least once every two months. However, sea otters dig thousands of pits a year, and Short suspects they actually could be encountering oil far more often than estimated.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Exxon Valdez Oil Found In Tidal Feeding Grounds Of Ducks, Sea Otters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 May 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060516075227.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2006, May 16). Exxon Valdez Oil Found In Tidal Feeding Grounds Of Ducks, Sea Otters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060516075227.htm
American Chemical Society. "Exxon Valdez Oil Found In Tidal Feeding Grounds Of Ducks, Sea Otters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060516075227.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

Raw: Buffalo Residents Digging Out, Helping out

AP (Nov. 22, 2014) Hundreds of volunteers joined a 'shovel brigade' in Buffalo, New York on Saturday, as the city was living up to its nickname, "The City of Good Neighbors." Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

Toyota's Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Green Car Soon Available in the US

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Toyota presented its hydrogen fuel-cell compact car called "Mirai" to US consumers at the Los Angeles auto show. The car should go on sale in 2015 for around $60.000. It combines stored hydrogen with oxygen to generate its own power. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Google Announces Improvements To Balloon-Borne Wi-Fi Project

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) In a blog post, Google said its balloons have traveled 3 million kilometers since the start of Project Loon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins