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Image : Still Toxic After All These Years

Location: Buzzards Bay, off West Falmouth, Mass.
Date: September 16, 1969

Lat./Long.: 41°35'57.60"N, 70°41'47.88"W
Material spilled: No. 2 fuel oil
Amount spilled: 189,000 gallons
Spill extent: **

Scientists made plaster of Paris casts of fiddler crab burrows in Great Sippewissett Marsh in Falmouth, Mass., which did not receive oil from a 1969 barge spill, and in nearby Wild Harbor, where oil from a 1969 barge spill remains buried beneath a pristine-looking surface. The Sippewissett burrows were straight, with average depths of 14.8 centimeters. Burrows in Wild Harbor areas with residual oil descended an average of only 6.8 centimeters and were stunted. The crabs appear to turn back when they encounter oil. (Illustration by E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


Last updated: July 28, 2014

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