Friday, February 03, 2006

Oil Spills

Earlier today a report came out that a tanker had run aground in Alaska. This tanker was the Seabulk Pride, owned by Seabulk International, a company that ships fuel for petroleum companies. Initial reports were that the spill was minor, about 100 gallons of gasoline. Hopefully it will stay that way. The Seabulk Pride has been in the news before, and not for good reasons; one of its crew members was cited and fired for drunkenness a few years ago.

A much worse story has come from the Baltic Sea. There, a large oil slick from an unknown source has coated the shores of Estonia and could kill 5,000 birds before the mess is cleaned up. Of particular is the European population of the long-tailed duck, which winters off the coast of Estonia. More details are available here.

Any story of oil spills brings me to recall the awful scenes of the Exxon Valdez spill, one of the worst disasters of my lifetime. I think that was when I first became aware of cormorants. I saw odd-looking birds with hooked bills being fished out of the oily mess and wondered what they were. Only later I learned that they were probably cormorants. Speaking of the Exxon Valdez, the Disgruntled Chemist reminds us that Exxon is still defaulting on the money it owes as a result of a suit against the company in 1994.