Alaska Sea Grant in the News

University of Alaska scientists to present research at Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Conference

UA abstracts

Date: March 2, 1999

ANCHORAGE, Alaska--March 23rd marks the tenth anniversary of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound. Researchers who have studied the impacts of the spill on the region's people and environment will present results of their work at an international conference in Anchorage, Alaska, March 23-26, 1999.

Among the hundreds of researchers will be scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Anchorage. They will present an array of research results on harbor seals, salmon, herring, sea otters, urchins, pigeon guillemots, river otters, and other species.

University of Alaska presentations will include:

  • The oil spill is thought to have triggered an outbreak of a virus that decimated Prince William Sound's stocks of Pacific herring. UAF researcher Kevin Stokesbury will describe mechanisms for how the virus spread through the sound.

  • Populations of pink salmon fell to near-record lows in Prince William Sound following the oil spill. UAF professor Ted Cooney led the Sound Ecosystem Assessment (SEA) project, which sought to understand how the region's salmon ecology was impacted by the spill. He will describe the importance of factors such as ocean temperature, plankton abundance, and predation on the recovery of salmon stocks since the spill.

  • The oil spill tainted hundreds of miles of beaches, depriving species such as pigeon guillemots important foraging opportunities. UAF's A. David McGuire is among a team of researchers who will present findings that the seabird's overall reproductive success did not vary between oiled and unoiled areas. They are concerned, however, that lower calorie consumption among birds in oiled areas may be due to less prey availability.

In all, nearly two dozen papers and posters on nearly every aspect of the spill's environmental impact will be presented by University of Alaska researchers at the symposium. Abstracts of these presentations are available online at:

Members of the media wishing to contact University of Alaska researchers may do so by contacting Doug Schneider, UAF Public Information Officer, at 907-474-7449 or by email at:

Legacy of an Oil Spill: Ten Years After the Exxon Valdez, is a scientific symposium sponsored by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council and the Alaska Sea Grant College Program.

The Alaska Sea Grant College Program is a marine research, education and outreach service headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. It is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with the state of Alaska and private industry.

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