On the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, a review of species impacted by the incident shows recovery is varied. Seven species are considered recovered, the latest being the sea otter whose recovery was announced in 2013. Four species are recovering but have not reached pre-spill status, two species’ recovery status is unknown and one species is not recovering. Lingering oil in nesting and foraging areas was a factor until 2004 in the slow recovery of some species, with climate change, reduced prey availability, predation by introduced species and natural low reproductive rates playing a part in delaying recovery. Full details of the recovery project are available at the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council website.
From the end of January through early March, many seabirds washed up on the shores of France, the UK, the Channel Islands and Spain. Most were in very poor body condition with the majority in France reported as weighing less than half their species' normal weight. Puffins and guillemots continue to be the species most affected.
Last spring oil found in the waters off Newfoundland was traced to a ship, the Manolis L, which sank in 1985. The Canadian Coast Guard attempted to stop the leaks and no further oil was noted until December, when reports of petroleum odor and oiled birds on the water began again.
On 22 March 2014, a collision between a bulk container ship and a barge in a busy Texas shipping channel near Galveston resulted in a spill of approximately 168,000 gallons of heavy fuel oil off the Texas City Dike. Birds and sea turtles have been affected, with some dolphin mortalities in the area being investigated.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has announced that the country's state and federal governments have endorsed an updated National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies. Oiled wildlife response is included in this plan.
SANCCOB) has been caring for nearly 800 penguin chicks during the 2013-2014 season through their Chick Bolstering Project. Interns are needed to help with raising the penguins and a new generator is sought to supply power to the care unit. Funds to help with the purchase of a new generator are also welcome.
A new Oil Spill Response (OSRL) facility, opened on 13 March 2014 in Brazil, houses the organisation’s fourth state of the art subsea well capping system. Similar equipment for responding to offshore drilling rig incidents is staged at OSRL facilities in Singapore, Norway and South Africa. How does this help wildlife?
As reported earlier, the 2014 winter storm season has been extremely devastating to seabirds in France and the UK, with impacts in Spain as well. Initial reports mentioned oiled birds and birds covered in a sticky substance.
California’s Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) is now accepting proposals for its 2014-2015 funding cycle for research and technical development projects that seek to better understand the effects of oil on wildlife, to improve rehabilitation and post release monitoring techniques or to develop baseline biomedical data. Since 1996, the OWCN has provided more than 2 milllion USD in funding for more than 100 projects.
It has taken nearly 25 years, but scientists tracking the health of sea otters in western Prince William Sound have found enough evidence to consider the population recovered from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.