Favorable weather was protecting Kodiak, America's No. 1 fishing port, from a killer oil slick Monday, but inspections revealed most of the oil from the biggest spill in U.S. history was floating freely or coating the Alaskan coastline.
Meanwhile, gasoline prices jumped more than 10 cents in the wake of the spill, an analyst said."It can be said it was the quickest as well as the greatest wholesale price hike in the history of the U.S. gasoline market," said Trilby Lundberg, who surveys prices at 17,000 U.S. gasoline stations.
Figures released by the Coast Guard Sunday showed that of the 10.1 million gallons that gushed from the tanker Exxon Valdez, 5.67 million were in the water or on shore and 4.41 million had evaporated or been recovered or dispersed.
Oil has fouled 3,000 square miles - an area larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined - including hundreds of miles of shoreline. Strong winds from any direction could send rivers of crude into new unsoiled fjords, rocky beaches and towns dependent on fishing and tourism.
Favorable winds and currents Sunday protected Kodiak, America's No. 1 fishing port, from oil that retreated to 60 miles away, said Bill Lamoreaux, regional supervisor for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The National Weather Service said that winds early Monday were about 30 mph from the east with scattered rain reported.
Nevertheless, an aerial inspection of the spill area Sunday revealed sea animals and birds swimming in blackened waters without a cleanup boat in sight. Despite the efforts of animal rescuers, many oil-soaked birds and otters cleaned by workers died anyway.
The first dead whale in the slick was found late Saturday by a fishing boat searching the Prince William Sound. The 40-foot barnacle-covered gray whale was roped and towed to a state ferry serving as a mother ship for rescuers.
The young gray whale's death was determined not caused by the oil, said Bud Antoelis of the National Marine Fisheries Service. But he said the whale was covered by oil and could kill scavenging birds feeding on it so the Coast Guard was being asked to tow the whale out to sea and sink it.
Antonelis said there are fears that whales might get oil clogged in their blowholes or that they might ingest it.