The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred in the Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989. It is considered one of the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters ever to occur at sea. According to official reports, the ship was carrying 54.1 million U.S. gallons of oil, of which 10.8 million U.S.gallons were spilt into the Prince William Sound.
Both the long- and short-term effects of the oil spill have been studied comprehensively. Thousands of animals died immediately; the best estimates include 250,000 to as many as 500,000 seabirds, at least 1,000 sea otters, approximately 12 river otters, 300 harbour seals, 250 bald eagles, and 22 orcas, as well as the destruction of billions of salmon and herring eggs. The effects of the spill continue to be felt today. Overall reductions in population have been seen in various ocean animals, including stunted growth in pink salmon populations. Sea otters and ducks also showed higher death rates in following years, partially because they ingested prey from contaminated soil and from ingestion of oil residues on hair due to grooming.
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