Natalie Fobes was one of the first photographers on the scene of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, the largest oil spill in North America. It was also the deadliest. The 11 million gallons of oil was a black wall of death for more than 350,000 birds and over a thousand sea otters.
For three months she photographed the spill for National Geographic Magazine. She traveled to Prince William Sound, Kodiak Island and the Aleutian Peninsula. Her coverage includes the Exxon Valdez on Bligh Reef, aerials of the oil, recovery efforts for birds and otters, beach clean-up and subsistence living. In 1993 and 1998 she returned to continue her coverage of the ongoing effects. Natalie won second place in the 1990 World Press Photo competition.
Because of her extensive photographic coverage and documentation, Natalie testified at the Exxon Valdez oil spill trials in both Federal and State courts. Attorneys credit her photographs with helping the juries understand the scope and impact of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. In February of 2008 Natalie Fobes' oil spill photographs were presented as evidence before the US Supreme Court.
To see photographs that represent her extensive files click here.
“Got my first look at the spill. I can’t believe it. The fumes are nauseating as we flew at 1500 feet. Even at this altitude I can’t see the edge of the spill. How in the hell are they going to clean this up.”
Excerpt from Natalie’s
journal on March 25, 1989.