GREEN

Emergency Responders Remember Exxon Valdez Spill's Impact On Wildlife, 25 Years Later

03/24/2014 12:52 pm ET

"Shortly after midnight on March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez struck Blight Reef in pristine Prince William Sound, Alaska, home to over 200 bird species."

What followed would become one of the worst environmental disasters in history as 10.8 million gallons of crude washed over 1,300 miles of coastline, smothering everything in its path. Many serious impacts from the Exxon Valdez oil spill still linger, 25 years later.

Three emergency responders with International Bird Rescue, a wildlife relief organization specializing in oiled bird care, sat down to share their experiences surrounding the spill "that changed everything." The group estimates between 100,000 and 250,000 seabirds were killed in the months following the accident.

"The Exxon Valdez spill was one absolutely for the record books -- it was one that required stamina, intestinal fortitude and diplomacy as you could never imagine needing before," Mimi Wood Harris, an emergency responder with the group, says in the clip.

Watch the video above, and take a look at some of the most poignant photos from the disaster here.

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  • AP
    In this April 4, 1989 file photo, the grounded tanker Exxon Valdez, left, unloads oil onto a smaller tanker, San Francisco, as efforts to refloat the ship continue on Prince William Sound, 25 miles from Valdez, Alaska. (AP Photo/File)
  • Bob Hallinen/Anchorage Daily News/MCT
    A dead sea otter coated with crude oil from the Exxon Valdez oil spill is found on the beach of Green Island in Prince William Sound, Alaska on April 2, 1989. (Bob Hallinen/Anchorage Daily News/MCT)
  • John Gaps III/AP
    Thick crude oil washed up on the cobble beach of Evans Island sticks to the boots and pants of a local fisherman in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on April 11, 1989. The Exxon Valdez tanker oil spill on March 24, 1989, blackened hundreds of miles of coastline. (John Gaps III/AP)
  • Spill workers, one wearing a respirator, hose beach during Corexit application test (wide shot) - Quayle Beach, Smith lsland (Prince William Sound). (Photo courtesy of Alaska Resources Library & Information Services)
  • Rob Stapleton/AP
    This ship's barges and tug head to the worst of oil spill in Alaska's history in Prince William Sound to clean up the oil on the surface of the water, March 25, 1989 in Valdez. The oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground and spilled 270,000 barrels of crude oil. This is the worst oil disaster in Alaska's history. (Rob Stapleton/AP)
  • CHRIS WILKINS/AFP/Getty Images
    VALDEZ, UNITED STATES: An oil cleanup worker walks through the oily surf at Naked Island on Prince Williams Sound 02 April 1989 as beach cleanup goes on in background, a week after the beginning of an oil disaster which occurred when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground 24 March 1989 and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound off Alaska, near Oil Pipeline tanker terminal in Valdez Harbor.
  • CHRIS WILKINS/AFP/Getty Images
    Three tugboats (R) push the oil tanker Exxon San Francisco (C) into place beside the crippled tanker Exxon Valdez (L) in Prince William Sound 30 March 1989 to begin off-loading the remainder of crude oil in Valdez, a week after the beginning of an oil disaster which occurred when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground 24 March 1989 and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound off Alaska.
  • Ken Graham/Greenpeace
    A sea otter pup covered in crude oil at the Homer, Alaska Center after the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster March 30, 1989. (Ken Graham/Greenpeace)
  • John Gaps III/AP
    A clean-up worker uses high pressure, high temperature water to wash crude oil off the rocky shore of Block Island, Sunday, April 17, 1989. It was part of a demonstration of different techniques of beach cleaning, to be used against the oil left over by the spill of the tanker Exxon Valdez. (John Gaps III/AP)
  • Oily rocks glisten in the sun - Green lsland (Prince William Sound). This section of beach was signed off as being environmentally stable by both Exxon and the Coast Guard, was re-oiled July 4, 1989. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Resources Library & Information Services)
  • AP
    This Red Necked Greb is covered in oil resulting from a spill on Friday, March 24, 1989, when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound about 25 miles from Valdez, Alaska. This bird found Thursday, March 30, 1989, on Knights Island, about 35 miles from the spill, was taken by photographers to the bird cleanup center in Valdez. (AP)
  • CHRIS WILKINS/AFP/Getty Images
    Fishermen Greg Will (L) and Matt Kinney, both of Valdez, stand in protest outside an Exxon news conference room which was closed to local residents, 02 April 1989 in Valdez, more a week after the beginning of an oil disaster which occurred when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground 24 March 1989 and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound off Alaska.
  • Members of the Oil Spill Task Force during tour of facility, surrounded by large pile of oily waste - Dayville Incineration Site, Valdez July 4, 1989. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Resources Library & Information Services)
  • John Gaps III/AP
    A pod of sea lions swim through a slick of crude oil off the shore of Ingot Island, Alaska, Thursday afternoon, April 14, 1989, three weeks after the oil tanker Exxon Valdez grounded on Bligh Reef, March 24, and spilled nearly 11 million gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. (John Gaps III/AP)
  • CHRIS WILKINS/AFP/Getty Images
    Sea lions sun themselves on oil polluted rock formation 02 April 1989 in Prince Williams Sound near Valdez more than a week after the beginning of an oil disaster which occurred when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground 24 March 1989 and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound off Alaska.
  • CHRIS WILKINS/AFP/Getty Images
    VALDEZ, UNITED STATES: An oil skimming operation works in a heavy oil slick near Latouche Island in the southwest end of Prince William Sound 01 April 1989 in Valdez, Alaska, one week after the beginning of an oil disaster which occurred when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground 24 March 1989 and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound.
  • Ken Graham/Greenpeace
    A heavily oiled loon found dead in Kenai Fjords, Alaska after the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster March 30, 1989. (Ken Graham/Greenpeace)
  • Marion Stirrup/AP
    Two staffers with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation are pictured patrolling the beach, May 1, 1989, in Anchorage, picking up oil-coated birds before they become toxic treats for predators. Steve Eng, left, and Max Schwenne were photographed on East Amatuli Island in the Barren Island group in the Lower Cook Inlet. That's about 225 miles from where the Exxon Valdez ran aground March 24, generating the nation's worst oil spill. (Marion Stirrup/AP)
  • CHRIS WILKINS/AFP/Getty Images
    U.S. petroleum giant Exxon Corporation shipping President Frank Iarossi comments the cleanup operation 02 April 1989 in Valdez, a week after the beginning of an oil disaster which occurred when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground 24 March 1989 and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into the waters of Prince William Sound off Alaska, near Oil Pipeline tanker terminal in Valdez Harbor.
  • AP
    This March 26, 1989 file photo shows the Exxon Baton Rouge (smaller ship) attempting to off load crude oil from the Exxon Valdez after it ran aground in the Prince William sound, spilling more than 270,000 barrels of crude oil. (AP Photo/Rob Stapleton, File)
  • AP
    In this June 23, 1989 file photo, the Exxon Valdez is towed out of Prince William Sound in Alaska by a tug boat and a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter. (AP Photo/Al Grillo, File)
  • CHRIS WILKINS/AFP/Getty Images
    VALDEZ, UNITED STATES: One baby and five adults oil-soaked sea otters lie dead on Green Island beach 03 April 1989 on Prince Williams Sound near Valdez more than a week after the beginning of an oil disaster which occurred when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground 24 March 1989 and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound off Alaska.
  • AP
    In this April 9, 1989 file photo, crude oil from the tanker Exxon Valdez, top, swirls on the surface of Alaska's Prince William Sound near Naked Island. (AP Photo/John Gaps III, File)
  • CHRIS WILKINS/AFP/Getty Images
    VALDEZ, UNITED STATES: Cleanup workers scrub large rocks on the oil-covered beach of Naked Island on Prince Williams Sound 02 April 1989 as beach cleanup goes on, a week after the beginning of an oil disaster which occurred when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground 24 March 1989 and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound off Alaska, near Oil Pipeline tanker terminal in Valdez Harbor.
  • CHRIS WILKINS/AFP/Getty Images
    VALDEZ, UNITED STATES: A sea otter, nicknamed 'Belle' by mammal rescue center volunteers, peers over towels while being dryed 31 March 1989 in Valdez, after being cleaned of oil, a week after the beginning of an oil disaster which occurred when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground 24 March 1989 and spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound off Alaska.
  • Getty Images
    A pylon marks the location of the Exxon Valdez shipwreck on Bligh Reef on April 6, 2004 near Valdez, Alaska. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
  • AP
    In this June 30, 2012 file photo, the Exxon Valdez is anchored some six nautical miles off the Bhavnagar coast near Alang ship-breaking yard in western Indian state of Gujarat, India. India's Supreme Court has allowed the Exxon Valdez, the oil tanker involved in one of the worst U.S. oil spills, to be dismantled in western Gujarat state. (AP Photo/File)
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