Sea otters in Alaska’s Prince William Sound have experienced long-term negative effects from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In some areas polluted by the spill, otter densities are now about half what they were before the accident. Much of the apparent recovery of otter populations in contaminated areas can be attributed to the arrival of otters from unaffected parts of the sound. Still, the researchers are cautiously optimistic that the negative effects of the spill will continue to dissipate over time and that the affected ecosystems can rebound to their pre-spill conditions.