Dr. Robin Crump had a front row seat to one of the world’s worst oil spills.
Twenty years ago, on Feb. 15, 1996, the Sea Empress oil tanker ran aground on mid-channel rocks in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in Wales.
Over the course of the following week, the Sea Empress spilled almost 18 million gallons — 80 million litres — of crude oil, making it Britain’s third largest oil spill and the world’s 12th largest at the time.
Beaches were coated in a thick brown chocolate mousse of petroleum. Thousands of birds and other creatures perished. The rare species, Asterina Phylactica, first discovered by Dr. Crump, was reduced to a handful of individuals. Thanks in large part to Crump’s efforts, the species was well on the road to recovery within six months.