Exxon Valdez — 25 Years Later
When the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound, Alaska 25 years ago, the Monterey Bay Aquarium sea otter team was among the first responders to the March 24, 1989 disaster. We were the only institution on the West Coast with experience rescuing and raising ill and orphaned sea otters, and we played a central role in setting up two emergency centers that cleaned and cared for surviving otters. (Between 1,000 and 5,500 sea otters died in the spill.)
We also brought two orphaned pups to Monterey (similar to the pup shown above) and raised them until they found homes at the Vancouver Aquarium.
This year, the sea otter population in Prince William Sound was finally declared recovered from the effects of the spill. For other species, the picture hasn’t been as rosy. A resident killer whale population may go extinct; the pigeon guillemot seabirds found in the region and a once-robust herring fishery have not bounced back.
New research on crude oil impacts
There’s new evidence, published this year by our partners at the Tuna Research and Conservation Center, that for the first time pinpoints significant long-term impacts from crude oil on ocean wildlife. Their published studies, conducted in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, document how crude oil affects the developing hearts of larval fishes caught in spills. They also show a possible link between compounds in oil and long-term risks to cardiac health in many animals exposed to the compounds – including sea otters and even humans.
Even before we opened our doors to the public in 1984, the Aquarium began caring for stranded and orphaned California sea otters. Today, 30 years later, we’re more involved than ever – and in more ways than ever – on behalf of a future with healthy oceans.
A sobering reminder
The 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill is a sobering reminder of how much is at stake.
It’s also a reminder that we can make a difference: if we’re prepared to respond, if we invest in scientific research to understand long-term impacts, and when we work for policies that protect key species and critical ocean ecosystems.
The Aquarium is active on all these fronts – and working just as hard to inspire new generations who will give a voice to ocean issues. We couldn’t do it without your help.
Art? Ocean animals? Or both? Check out these amazing photos of our South American sea nettles, from staff photographer Randy Wilder. We grew them behind the scenes from tiny ephyrae (babies), and are the first aquarium ever to display them! Now in the Jellies Experience.
We were overjoyed to hear that eight-year-old Molly Hall earned the title of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ California Champion. As you can see here, she’s a previous (and happy) participant in our Days of Discovery scuba program! Learn more about Molly and the award.
How are you feeling about the weekend? Thanks to Jennifer Prince for this great #FanFriday shot! Plan your visit.
Cooking Up a Storm — and Solutions!
Chef John Ash is a longtime supporter of our Seafood Watch program — and will be honored as our 2014 Educator of the Year at Cooking for Solutions on May 16-18.
He’s also up for another honor: a James Beard Award for best single-subject cookbook, for Culinary Birds: The Ultimate Poultry Cookbook. His co-author, James Fraioli, collaborated with Seafood Watch on another cookbook, Ocean Friendly Cuisine.
John is a tireless advocate for sustainable cuisine from land and sea, and an award-winning cooking school teacher as well as mentor to fellow chefs.
You can discover first-hand what a great teacher he is during one of two hands-on DYI cooking classes at Cooking for Solutions: Saturday’s Smoked and Cured Salmon class, or Sunday’s session featuring Grilled Pizza with John Ash.
John is just one of a half-dozen participants in this year’s Cooking for Solutions events who are 2014 James Beard Award finalists, including our culinary partner Cindy Pawlcyn, and chefs Richard Blais, Michael Leviton, Charles Phan and Jonathon Sawyer. A week ago, Alton Brown was honored by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
All in all, it’s a blue-ribbon celebration of sustainability!
You don’t have to wait for our Tentacles special exhibition (opens April 12) to see cool cephalopods at the Aquarium. These red octopuses in our Splash Zone have been particularly active lately! Read how one adventurous red octopus went on a midnight ramble at the Aquarium
Sea star populations along the Pacific Coast from southern California to Alaska are dying due to a disease outbreak called “wasting syndrome.” Learn more in our latest podcast.
How would you like to be face-to-face with this fellow? Our divers don’t mind, and neither does the fish! We give our critically endangered black sea bass routine health checks and freshwater baths (to eliminate parasites), and just found out that the largest one weighs 230 pounds!
Congratulations Cindy Pawlcyn! The James Beard Foundation today announced that our culinary partner is a finalist for the prestigious 2014 James Beard Award as Best Restaurateur in the United States. Cindy’s on the left, above, with our resident executive chef for Cindy’s Waterfront, Jeff Rogers.
The award ceremonies are May 5 in New York City.
We’re thrilled for Cindy, and delighted that you can enjoy dishes every day at the Aquarium that reflect her commitment to seasonal flavors and sustainable cuisine.