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Ship Wreck on Unalaska Island
This page contains archived content and is no longer being updated. At the time of publication, it represented the best available science. However, more recent observations and studies may have rendered some content obsolete.
On Wednesday, December 8, 2004, the Selendang Ayu ran aground near Skan Bay off Alaska’s Unalaska Island. The ship snapped in two and spilled an estimated 41,000 gallons of oil into the ocean. This image of the wrecked freighter was captured by the QuickBird satellite on December 13, 2004. The ship is anchored in shallow waters near the shore and has been hammered with waves from the deeper ocean to its left. The lighter blue pool to the right of the ship is probably a reflection of the shallow sea floor.
The oil spill is reported to extend over 10 miles of remote coast near the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge on Unalaska Island. The tan streaks flowing from the top half of the ship toward the image top and right may be congealing bunker fuel. Weather has slowed rescue and clean-up operations, and the foamy white waves make the ocean appear rough in this image. It is also possible that the long white line between the ship and the shore is formed by soybeans spilled from the ship’s hold.