Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Sea Otters Rebound from Exxon Valdez Disaster

By Andrea Thompson, Planet Earth Editor | March 03, 2014 04:04pm ET

Nearly a quarter of a century after the Exxon Valdez disaster dumped 11 million gallons (40 million liters) of oil into Alaska'sPrince William Sound, sea otter numbers have rebounded to levels seen before the spill, the U.S. Geological Survey announced Friday (Feb. 28) with a new study.

Sea otters (Enhydra lutris), found along the Pacific coasts of North America and Northeast Asia, are one of more than 20 types of animals that make their home near the shore affected by the March 1989 oil spill. The disaster occurred in prime sea otter habitat, according to the USGS study. The oil "drastically reduces" the ability of the otters' fur to provide insulation, the report said.

It is estimated that several thousand sea otters perished because of the spill, the USGS said in a statement, and subsequent monitoring showed that the animals were slow to recover, likely because oil lingering in their environment continued to affect them.


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