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Oil Spill Spawns Alaskan 'Science Rush'

When the supertanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on the rocks of Bligh Island on March 24, the more than 10 million gallons of crude oil it carried, invaded every nook and cranny of Alaska’s Prince William Sound, polluting the air, fouling the beaches, and staining the water for miles around. Within hours, while the stricken yessel remained on the rocks that had sliced it open like a tin can, a second invasion began: the scientists. They included fisheries biologists, oceanographers, vete

Jonathan Beard

When the supertanker Exxon Valdez ran aground on the rocks of Bligh Island on March 24, the more than 10 million gallons of crude oil it carried, invaded every nook and cranny of Alaska’s Prince William Sound, polluting the air, fouling the beaches, and staining the water for miles around. Within hours, while the stricken yessel remained on the rocks that had sliced it open like a tin can, a second invasion began: the scientists. They included fisheries biologists, oceanographers, veterinarians, and chemists, and they arrived on the scene to ply their expertise for government agencies, industrial finns, universities, and, in some cases, for the pure pursuit of sceince. Now, nearly three months later, hundreds— some say thousands—are still using Prince William Sound as a research platform, and it’s a safe bet that some of them will still be there years from now, when, it is hoped, the last apparent...

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