During the time of accident, Exxon Valdez was carrying 200 million liters of crude oil, out of which it spilled around 40 million liters into the sea. As a result, approximately 1,990 square kilometers of shoreline was badly polluted. Almost 2000 sea otters, 302 harbor seals, and 250,000 birds died in the days that followed the incident. As there was no solid plan with both the state and federal government to deal with such emergency situation, the oil spill reached far-off places before any kind of response process can be started.
Marine and wild lives were the hardest hit by the oil spill. Lives of millions of fishes almost came to a standstill. Some were killed by eating oil contaminated food, while others were starved to death because of the spoiling of plankton and larva on which they were dependent. Moreover, the thick layer of oil on the surface disrupted the whole marine life beneath it. Most of the fishes come to the surface for the zooplankton and larva, which feed on the phytoplankton that takes energy from the sun and converts it into food. The thick oil layer at the top destroyed this phytoplankton and thus the main food source for the fishes. Moreover, millions of young fishes that hatched into the sea were all killed because of the polluted environment.
Wild life was the next worst hit after the marine life. Birds in the number of thousands and otters in hundreds died in the weeks following the oil spill. A specific number of death bodies of birds and animals couldn’t be reached as it was difficult to identify the death bodies in the thick oily sludge. Both, birds and sea otters were the most vulnerable beings affected by the oil spill as they don’t have any thick protecting layer on their bodies other than the furry surface. When this fur surface gets dirty, they die. This was exactly what led to their death.
Beaches and coastal lines were also greatly affected. The life style of the people of the region completely changed. The fishing industry came to a sudden standstill. Many sea birds and animals were washed to the shore, some in dying condition and other already dead. Some of the species such as harbor seals, pink salmon, mussels, harlequin ducks, and sea otters were suddenly invisible. In total, more than 20 types of birds and animals were affected by the oil spill, whose effect is still observed today in many of them.