Rough seas and high winds forced a lull in oil-skimming along the southern coast as many Alaskans paused for five minutes in a silent display of grief over the ecological disaster.
The Coast Guard and officials of Exxon said the bad weather made it unlikely that more than a few skimmers would be at work Monday trying to suck up more of the 10.1 million-gallon spill.Exxon estimates more than 1.2 million gallons remain afloat; the rest has washed ashore, dissipated or been picked up by the 48-vessel flotilla of volunteer and professional skimmers.
Even the best of the skimmers, the Soviet's 425-foot Vaidogubsky, was idled during the weekend while adjustments were made to enable the giant ship to pick up the taffy-like sludge pooled off Kenai Peninsula.
Sunday's five minutes of silence was requested by Gov. Steve Cowper to commemorate the 30th day after the March 24 spill in Prince William Sound, an area rich in beauty and marine wildlife.
In Cordova, a fishing community of 2,500 people on the eastern side of the sound, hundreds of people endured rain and met at the high school for folk songs, recitations and jabs at Exxon, President Bush and others.
A children's mural was hung on the gymnasium wall, depicting the life of the sound before the spill - fish, boats and a rainbow.
Other youngsters contributed to a book on how to remedy a problem felt and shared by people far away. One girl wrote that she would ask her dad to clean up the sound; others wrote that they would let captains of ship drink only water or milk.
The latter referred to the captain of the Exxon Valdez, who failed a sobriety test nine hours after the tanker ran aground at Bligh Reef. Exxon said the captain had turned the ship over to an uncertified third mate.
Student James White took another approach.
"The Coast Guard will work with the Navy," he said. "The guns will be taken off (the boats) and vaccum cleaner pumps will replace them. Then the pumps will suck up all of the oil and it won't hurt the fish."