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SnowOtter Edventure



Southcentral Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

Remember that shocking oil spill in Alaska in the spring of 1989? How could we forget the televised pictures of birds covered in oil, their poor dead bodies littering the shore. Did you think that a bunch of cleaning personnel just went in there with big sponges or hoses and soaked up / sprayed away all that ugly deadly black goo? You are right. This educational adventure is for those who would like an insider’s look at the ramifications of that disaster on nature. This is the ultimate trip for an environmentally aware six people. But you must be in shape -- this is an active tour with hiking and kayaking (up to three hours).

The tour:

This educational 10 day cruise and kayaking journey in Southcentral Alaska’s Prince William Sound is an incredible opportunity for just six people to study that accidental but man made Eco disaster, the Exxon Valdez oil spill. It is the first tour of its kind, offering firsthand experience of how the Sound was and continues to be affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill; and to witness the recovery that has taken place since that devastating spill.

Copyright Earth Odyssey used with permission.

Background information:

(Source: Exxon Valdez Restoration Plan.) What happened on March 24, 1989: Shortly after midnight, the T/V Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling almost eleven million gallons of North Slope Crude oil. It was the largest tanker spill in United States history. That spring the oil moved along the coastline of Alaska, contaminating portions of the shoreline of Prince William Sound, the Kenai Peninsula, lower Cook Inlet, the Kodiak Archipelago, and the Alaska Peninsula. Oiled areas include a National Forest, four National Wildlife Refuges, three National Parks, five State Parks, four State Critical Habitat Areas, and a State Game Sanctuary. Oil eventually reached shorelines nearly 600 miles southwest from Bligh Reef where the spill occurred. The spill area includes all of the shoreline oiled by the spill, severely affected communities, and adjacent uplands to the watershed divide.

Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound. copyright Earth Odyssey - used with permission.Response:

During 1989, efforts focused on containing and cleaning up the spill, and rescuing oiled wildlife. Skimmers worked to remove oil from the water. Booms were positioned to keep oil from reaching salmon hatcheries in Prince William Sound and Kodiak. A fleet of private fishing vessels known as the "Mosquito Fleet" played an important role in protecting these hatcheries, assisting the skimmers, and capturing oiled wildlife and transporting them to rehabilitation centers. Exxon began to clean up beaches under the direction of the U.S. Coast Guard with advice from federal and state agencies and local communities. Several thousand workers cleaned shorelines, using techniques ranging from cleaning rocks by hand to high-pressure hot-water washing. Fertilizers were applied to some oiled shorelines to increase the activity of oil-metabolizing microbes, an activity known as bioremediation. Still a mess: Continuing shoreline assessments and clean-up were done intermittently from 1989 to 1994. While there may be a few exceptions, the surveys determined that the cost and potential environmental impact of further cleanup was greater than the problems caused by leaving the oil in place. Even now traces of the disaster linger on the shore.

Tour Details:

Earth Odysseys’ SnowOtter edventure includes eight days on the waters of Prince William Sound aboard the Babkin, a newly constructed 58-foot motor vessel. With the Babkin serving as the base camp for the tour, guests will spend time kayaking in and among glacial fjords and islands and exploring rocky shorelines and secluded beaches in search of evidence of the spill. Each day guests will visit a site significantly affected by the spill, returning each evening to comfortable surroundings and gourmet meals aboard the Babkin.

Your Guides:

Earth Odysseys’ guides offer an unrivaled diversity of experience, having participated in the clean-up and assessment of the Exxon Valdez spill and drawing upon their naturalist, resource management and outdoor guiding backgrounds to promote an understanding of Prince William Sound’s ecosystem. Guests will discover the Sound’s natural history and have opportunities to share the experiences of scientists, fishermen and residents who live and work in and around the Sound.

Nature’s Bounty:

Guests will also experience the Sound’s diverse wildlife in its natural habitat, including humpback and killer whales, eagles, Dall porpoises, sea otters, seals, sea lions and seabirds. Guests may also fish for halibut and salmon.

Timing and Cost:

The SnowOtter edventure will be held June 12 - 21, June 26 - July 5 and July 10 - 19, 1998. Each tour is limited to six passengers and costs $3,275 per person, based on double occupancy. Price includes two nights bed & breakfast lodging in Anchorage (arrival and departure), transportation to and from Whittier via the Alaska Railroad, transfers, meals and use of the ship’s recreation equipment. Cost does not include airfare.

The SnowOtter adventure is an active tour, involving several hikes and kayak trips (up to three hours).

Tour Company Credentials:

Earth Odysseys is an eco-cultural educational adventure company whose mission is to provide journeys that promote an understanding of the environmental and cultural context of the destinations visited. Seattle-based Earth Odysseys was incorporated in 1998, bringing together more than 40 years of combined scientific, educational and outdoor guide experience.

Telephone 1-800-484-6904 code: ERTH or (206) 937-6092 for reservations and information. (Tour description from a press release by Erik Denny, Richmond Public Relations.)

Moon Travel Handbooks Alaska Yukon.From Moon Travel Handbooks:

Alaska-Yukon Handbook
6th edition (1997)
Deke Castleman & Don Pitcher

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