Friday, April 16, 2010

20 Years Later, Wildlife Still Eating Oil from Exxon Valdez Spill

by Jaymi Heimbuch, San Francisco, California

When officials said it would take 20 years for the corals on the Great Barrier Reef to recover after the Chinese coal ship slammed into it and grounded for a week, they may have even been conservative with their estimate. It seems that exposure to toxins and oil can have a long, drawn out recovery time - at least, that's what is found for wildlife that live in the area affected by the Exxon Valdez spill two decades ago.

According to Science Daily, the research was published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry and shows long-term exposure to oil in harlequin ducks living in the areas where 10.8 million gallons of crude oil were spilled into the sea.

It is still regarded as one of the most devastating human-caused contamination events, and the effects on wildlife populations and communities have been debated by biologists, ecologists, and the oil industry ever since. Now, using the biomarker CYP1A, which is induced upon exposure to crude oil, an international team led by Daniel Esler, from the Centre for Wildlife Ecology, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, has measured prolonged exposure to oil in local wildlife populations.... Read the full story on TreeHugger