In March 2008, NASA’s Aqua satellite captured an image of the Gulf of Alaska that showed soft shades of turquoise and tan in the water

These colors were caused by sediment and phytoplankton, which are tiny plant-like organisms that flourish in sunlit ocean surface water

The deeper waters beyond the shelf edge in the lower right corner of the image are dark blue, not clouded by sediment

Fine sediment, rocks ground to powder by glaciers, pours into the gulf through river

Sediment also washes into the gulf from the shore where it stains the water tan before dispersing

March 24, 1989, that the Exxon Valdez oil tanker deviated from the shipping channel between the port of Valdez and the open waters.

Hundreds of seals, thousands of sea otters, and hundreds of thousands of sea birds died in the days following the spill