Galapagos Oil Spill

January 25, 2001


Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster

Too often it seems, ships ooze their cargo of oil into the sea. Someone once said that no matter what we do, oil tankers leak all of their oil into the ocean anyway and that maybe we should just give up, fill the seas with oil and then use the tankers to transport clean water back and forth. The image above was taken on January 21 by the SeaWiFs satellite over the Galapagos Islands (625 miles west of Ecuador), several days after an oil tanker ran-aground. About 160,000 gallons of oil were released into the sea, and the spill now encompasses an area over 100 square miles! The spill can be seen as the patch of bluish gray, just north of the western end of San Cristobel Island, at the lower right portion of the image. Low clouds over the ocean appear gray on this image, and the higher convective clouds, building over the islands, are bright white. The Galapagos were visited by Charles Darwin and is where his observations of the islands plant and animal life led to the development of his theories on natural selection. The creatures on the Galapagos Islands have evolved over the ages with virtually no human intervention.

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