On March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck a reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Twenty-five years after the tragedy, oil still lurks under the surface of Prince William Sound’s beaches, still impacting the lives of the people and animals that live there.
According to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, approximately 11 million gallons (257,000 barrels) of oil spilled into the sound that day — that’s roughly equivalent to 17 Olympic-sized swimming pools. It is considered to be one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters. At the time, the nation watched in horror as video of oily birds and sea otters were broadcast across televisions across the country. Approximately 250,000 seabirds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, 250 bald eagles, up to 22 killer whales, and billions of salmon and herring eggs died in the disaster.
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