Twenty-Five years ago the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spilled its guts across Alaska’s shoreline. It was a massive ecological disaster of great importance for many reasons, but mostly because it’s seared in our memories by horrifying photos. Here’s a collection of the striking images that informed a generation of dialog about environmentalism.
It was a tragedy, to be sure.
A local fisherman inspects a dead California grey whale on the northern shore of Latoucha Island, Alaska, Sunday afternoon on April 9, 1989. John Gaps III/ AP Photo
Steve Provant, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s on-scene clean-up co-ordinator, examines oily rocks on Green Island, June 25, 1989 in Prince William Sound. Jack Smith/ AP Photo
An oil soaked bird is examined on an island in Prince William Sound. Jack Smith/ AP Photo
Crude oil from the tanker Exxon Valdez, top, swirls on the surface of Alaska’s Prince William Sound near Naked Island Saturday, April 9, 1989, 16 days after the tanker ran aground. John Gaps III/AP Photo
The Exxon Baton Rouge, smaller ship, attempts to off load crude oil from the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska on March 26, 1989. AP Photo
Oil clean-up workers prepare to vacuum up crude oil on the shoreline of Block Island, in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on April 17, 1989. John Gaps III/ AP Photo
Crews use high pressured hoses to blast the rocks on this beach front on Naked Island, Alaska, April 21, 1989. Rob Stapleton/AP Photo
On April 2, 1989 workers hopelessly try to remove globs of oil from Baked Island in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Jack Smith/AP Photo
Troy Adamson, left, and Nicolette Heaphy clean a cormorant that had been covered in oil at the bird cleanng center in Valdez, Alaska, April 4, 1989. Rob Stapleton/AP Photo
Top image: The grounded tanker Exxon Valdez, left, unloads oil onto a smaller tanker, San Francisco, as efforts to refloat the ship continue on Prince William Sound, 25 miles from Valdez, Alaska, April 4, 1989. AP Photo