Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Long-term ecosystem repsonse to the Exxon Valdez oil spill

January 1, 2012

The ecosystem response to the 1989 spill of oil from the Exxon Valdez into Prince William Sound, Alaska, shows that current practices for assessing ecological risks of oil in the oceans and, by extension, other toxic sources should be changed. Previously, it was assumed that impacts to populations derive almost exclusively from acute mortality. However, in the Alaskan coastal ecosystem, unexpected persistence of toxic subsurface oil and chronic exposures, even at sublethal levels, have continued to affect wildlife. Delayed population reductions and cascades of indirect effects postponed recovery. Development of ecosystem-based toxicology is required to understand and ultimately predict chronic, delayed, and indirect long-term risks and impacts.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2003
Title Long-term ecosystem repsonse to the Exxon Valdez oil spill
DOI 10.1126/science.1084282
Authors C. H. Peterson, S.D. Rice, J.W. Short, Daniel Esler, James L. Bodkin, Brenda E. Ballachey, D.B. Irons
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science
Index ID 70007016
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Biological Science Center

Related Content