National Geographic : 1978 Jul
I HAVE BEFORE ME, as I write, a copy of the first proof of Noel Grove's "Super ships" article that appears in this issue. A part of it reads: "At this writing, no supership over 200,000 tons has yet broken up fully loaded. No one can predict the environ mental impact of such an accident. No one seriously doubts that it will happen." Happen it did, off France's Brittany coast on March 16 of this year. The 229,000-ton tanker Amoco Cadiz lost steering control; at tempts to tow her to safety failed, and she broke up on the rocks-a colossal whale of a ship pumping her black lifeblood of 69 mil lion gallons of oil into an angry sea that car ried the pollution along more than a hundred miles of coast and fishing grounds. It was the largest spill and potentially one of the most terrible ecological disasters in history. Noel and photographer Martin Rogers were on the first Concorde flight to Europe after the news came, the grim culmination of half a year's voyaging with superships in ev ery part of their special world-from Alas ka's Valdez Narrows to the Persian Gulf. The tragedy poses a direct and serious challenge to all nations that supply and rely on oil. Unlike the Argo Merchant, a notori ous anachronism that dumped seven and a half million gallons of heavy fuel oil off Nan tucket in 1976, the Amoco Cadiz carried the best that modern technology could offer in the way of navigation aids and operating mechanisms. Still, she went aground, a vic tim of nature's fury and disabled steering, and left an impact that can only be com pared to one of nature's own calamities. The vast spill that smeared the once beau tiful coast might have been in the shape of a black question mark. The repercussions were not only environmental but also politi cal. As an anguished young Breton helping with the cleanup remarked: "We will leave a chamber pot for our children. They'll man ufacture plastic birds with motors so that kids can see what a bird was like." It has been widely speculated that the conservation movement lost some of its steam because of the demands of the energy problem. It takes only one Amoco Cadiz to remind us that the questions will not go away. NAYSHONAL THENATIONALGEOGRAPHICMAGAZINEVOL.154, NO. 1 COPYRIGHT© 1978 BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY WASHINGTON,D.C. INTERNATIONALCOPYRIGHTSECURED July 1978 The Grand Canyon 2 A spectacular14-page portfolio by Associate Editor W. E. Garrettcaptures the grandeur that draws three million visitors a year. But that same attractionposes a question ... Are We Loving It to Death? 16 Author-photographerGarrett learns how an undermanned nationalpark staff copes with the mounting ecological problems of a 1,218,375-acre area. A special supplement charts the canyon as seen from space and maps its heart with new accuracy and detail. Portrait of Planet Earth 53 En route to Jupiter, NASA's Voyager 1 pictures our world and moon as never viewed before. Is This the Tomb of Philip of Macedon? 55 Greek archeologistManolis Andronicos finds exquisite paintings, gold caskets, and bones that could be those of the father of Alexander the Great. Photographsby Spyros Tsavdaroglou. Day of the Rice God 78 Drums and pipes heralda Japanesefestival. Photos by H. Edward Kim; text by Douglas Lee. Lake Erie's Bass Islands 86 Good fishing, good wine, and a slice of Ohio's yesterday enchant Terry and Lyntha Eiler. Sailing With the Supertankers 102 Awesome giants move the world's oil, but each representsa potential disaster. Noel Grove and MartinRogers report. Black Day for Brittany 124 World's biggest oil spill results when a tanker breaks apart on coastal rocks. Dazzling Corals of Palau 136 DouglasFaulkner photographsa vast underwater garden in the Pacific that has become an environ mental battleground. Text by Thomas O'Neill. COVER: Mule party ascends the Grand Canyon's North Kaibab Trail. Photograph by W. E. Garrett.