In France it is known as la Marée Noir, the “Black Tide.” The waves of oil that are rushing to choke the shorelines of Louisiana are well-known to the residents of the Galician coast of Spain and the shores of southwestern France where I used to live.
It was there in 2002 that the giant oil tanker Prestige broke apart in rough seas, a nightmare that would bring death to more than 20,000 birds and other wildlife, a nightmare that would spell destruction to the fishing and tourism industries for years afterward.
Living near Bordeaux at the time, I witnessed the results of the disaster first hand. For those concerned about the effects of the spill in the Gulf of Mexico, past tanker calamities such as the Prestige and the 1989 wreck of the Exxon Valdez are instructive; they help us understand the magnitude of the damage such accidents can have on a region’s habitat, and the dangerous consequences of insufficient government regulation and political wrangling. (more…)