RE: Wildlife Recovery Following the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
By Paul D. Boehm
June 19, 2017
Just to make sure that your readers have accurate and balanced scientific information you should note that the USGS’s fine work on recovery of sea otters (summarized in Deep Sea Research) largely overstates the effect of the oil spill in delaying recovery of sea otters.
The oil spill had a devastating impact on sea otters during the first few years after the spill. But many years later (post 2000), their slow recovery likely had very little if anything to do with the “lingering oil” which was buried deeply in large boulder/cobble beaches where otters do not feed. Scientific articles, published in two of the finest journals on environmental and marine science (attached) show though specific investigation that otters were not and could not be exposed to this deeply buried oil. Where the oil was buried was not where the otters dug for food. Further evidence for this is the very fact that this so called “lingering”, deeply buried oil has changed little over the years and isolated remnants still remain on some (very few) beaches to this day; yet otters are not being affected.
As with other areas of investigation (e.g., herring declines) research by others shows that factors other than oil spills play a major role in many ecological changes after the initial, acute injury phase of a spill.
Paul D. Boehm, Ph.D.
About: Paul D. Boehm Ph.D., is Group Vice President and Principal Scientist at Exponent, Inc.
Received June 14, 2017 - Published June 19, 2017
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