Never Here: A Coastal Artist Remembers March 24, 1989 Exxon Valdez And April 20, 2010 Gulf Spill
Naturalist Tony Angell Revisits His Fear Of The Possible 'Black Tides'
By Tony Angell
March 24, 1989: I was here at home, at Lopez Island near Seattle, on that date and like most people had no idea of the full extent of the Exxon Valdez disaster until months, years, if not now decades later. Visiting the area for a few weeks in the early 1990s as part of the Artists For Nature Foundation expedition of artists to the Alaskan fishing village of Cordova, I got some sense of the displacement of life that occurred as the vast feeding areas for sea otter in Prince William Sound were dead zones.
Many of the otters had migrated southward to Cordova so my kayak trips across Orca Inlet were often surrounded by pods of otter, the total numbers of which were over a thousand. It was shocking to witness the small rafts of thin and starving female otters floating together as they struggled to nurse their youngsters. Their numbers had overwhelmed the feeding area there and both the resident animals and those of Prince William Sound were suffering the consequence.
Oil-soaked duck in Prince William Sound
It wasn't just the oiling of the animals that was killing the birds and mammals but the poisoning of the entire system had rendered the region devoid of invertebrates. Without this fundamental food base the shell fish and fish that sustained the otter were absent. I was then struck by the comparisons with Puget Sound and, more recently,...
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Post Date:December 14th, 2010
'After the Exxon Valez disaster in Prince William Sound, other coastal communities vowed "Never Here." Artistist-naturalist Tony Angell reflects on the trauma still gripping the Gulf of Mexico, even more epically than the ecological harm visited upon Alaska. Angell saw Prince William Sound first hand as part of an expedition organized by the Artists for Nature Foundation.