Exxon Valdez

Oil Spill

Crash

Shortly after midnight on March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef just off the coast of Alaska, dumping more than 11 million gallons of crude oil into the pristine environment.


Rescue Attempt

The Valdez ran aground on the reef, puncturing the ship’s hull and sending oil spilling into the sound. Unfortunately, the response to the spill was not ideal. There was a limited attempt to use dispersants by helicopter, but there was only a small supply of them available near the site.

Aftermath of the crash

Beaches in the Knight Island chain were covered in oil. The primary victims of the oil were sea birds. Some estimate that as many as 250,000 of the birds were killed, as well as several thousand sea otters and hundreds of seals and bald eagles. Salmon and herring egg losses were also extensive. In total, about 800 miles of coastline were damaged by the oil.