The Prestige suffered hull damage in heavy seas near the coast of Galicia, Spain. It was towed to open sea where a few days later, on 19 November, the single hulled vessel broke in two and sank about 275 km west of Vigo. The Prestige is considered one of the largest environmental disasters in Spain's history.
The affected area is a very important ecological region. It is a key site on the wintering migration routes of Atlantic seabirds, and maintains an important population of Eurasian otters, dolphins and marine turtles.
Oiled birds started arriving on the nearest beaches almost immediately. They continued to arrive on the shores, although never more than 83 birds a day. The wildlife response, to which international response groups were invited, was operational for over 80 days.
The activities of the Sea Alarm Foundation in the aftermath of the Prestige incident, Sea Alarm Foundation, 1993
ITOPF CASE History: the Prestige
SEO Bird Life: Impacto de la Marea Negra Del Prestige Sobre las Aves Marinas (in Spanish)
CEDRE: Case studies and articles (in French and English)