Tide of Destruction

The Two Gulfs


The largest oil spill in history until now, caused by the deliberate atrocity of the Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army as they were retreating from Kuwait, covered 600 square miles of sea surface, and blackened 300 miles of coastline and decimated the once-abundant wildlife.



Saddam’s army deliberately spilled as much as six million barrels of crude as they blasted pipelines, and emptied loaded tankers into the Persian Gulf.  Everything that wasn’t spilled into the water was set on fire.


“The Persian Gulf catastrophe would have even been worse if it were not for four brave Kuwaitis who tricked the Iraquis by making them think that a 48-inch pipe had already released all the oil from storage tanks.” –  Tom Canby (National Geographic, August 1991)




Hundreds of volunteers cleaned up  habitats and laid protective booms across tidal channels. Even though at least 20,000 birds died, many were meticulously cleaned treated, and released.




Comparison of the estimated spillage of three major oil disasters:

Gulf of Mexico: 126-210 million gallons (2.8-4.8 Million Barrels) as of July 13, 2010
Persian Gulf:  84-250 million gallons (2-6 Million Barrels)
Exxon Valdez:  11 million gallons (260,000 to 750,000 Barrels)







Contrary to the reports that the spill had few long-term effects, there is ample evidence that there was long-term damage; some of the oil in the tidal flats is as much as a foot under the surface twenty years later.

To track the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico : http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/04/29/interactive.spill.tracker/index.html

25 Responses to “Tide of Destruction”

  1. Frank Cotton Says:

    Living on the gulf coast, I never dream I would see images like these in our community

  2. Frank Cotton Says:

    simply the most amazing images I have ever seen. I am a Photo student in a local college. and I have chosen Steve Mc Curry as the photographer I want to do Homage and a power point of course. I hope I do you Honor .your photographs have inspired to return to school at age 50 . You are truly a Master Photographer. thanks Frank Cotton

  3. Absolutely stunning images, Mr. NcCurry.
    You are a photographic genius.

  4. In life if you want to see photographs and in photographs if you want to see life then one should visit Steve McCurry’s blog.

    Your photographs makes me smile, makes me cry, makes me ponder, makes me think, makes me wonder, makes me jealous & makes me unlearn everything. I m so fortunate to have met you the Legend of Photography and stand next to you, when you had visited Mumbai and came for shoot at Marine Drive.
    When I met you I didn’t knew the stature you carried, neither i had seen much of your work except the iconic ‘Afghan Girl’ pic.
    With each passing day .. with seeing each of your photographs .. I am zapped & I wonder what makes you man tick and get to click such wonderful moments. I dont see technique there .. what i see is your love,your passion, your hard work, your zest to get a frame which speaks volumes in many levels of emotions.
    Dont know if one can learn photography seeing your work .. but yes one thing which one can learn and imbibe seeing your work is Passion.
    Thank’s so much Sir Steve for making me more passionate in the passion I follow.

  5. K. Agung Patriadi S.E Says:

    Beautiful & Great Stories & Great Photos, you are the Great Photographer and i must learn photography from you, teach me and other young photographers in the world. please!

  6. Really impressive pictures! Also great to see a picture of you. But maybe the last picture is mirror-inverted because of the writing “ATO” instead of (Toy)OTA on the car.

  7. Memorie di guerra…

    Il 2 Agosto 1990, con l’invasione del Kuwait,  iniziava la prima Guerra del Golfo. Dal punto di vista mediatico, il primo allestito come racconto collettivo del villaggio globale, a misura di sponsor  e tv. Una storia catodica da consumarsi  in p…

  8. What to Say!!!!! Horror Beauty……Nothing to say…….Images speaks for itself…….Thank`s ..WAIT TO SEE MANY MORE..

  9. Remarkable images. What was it like being there and faced with those conditions?

  10. Great work! Stunning as always!

  11. Fantastic work as always. You sure have seen it all in your career.

  12. Il est dommage que cet événement soit si dramatique, ces photos sont magnifiques !

  13. Your work is fantastic! Sublime.
    A cry for the world.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. The photos are amazing and terrifying at the same time… I grew up in Alaska where every single child was taught at a very young age about the Exxon Valdez and the destruction which it caused for Alaskan wildlife. It makes me sad thinking about how much destruction this oil spill which is so much worse than that one will cause.

  15. Hi Steve,
    thanks for this post, I liked the comparison.
    Cheers, francesca

  16. Felt how this world will look when it will come to end …

    Some times I question if human are really most intelligent life form on Earth.


  17. Albert Ruegg Says:

    Dear Steve

    Great photographic work. Most impressive photojournalism. Touching.

    How can one prevent such destruction?

  18. Thank you, Steve, for raising your voice on this topic. Hatred as well as greed don’t go together with responsability, neither there nor here.

  19. What a shame for humanity.

  20. Amazing self telling images. Interesting on how you arrange those picture for this topic. Thanks for sharing Steve!


    Jos Runarka

  21. Great pictures for a great disaster. Never known until today that there was still such an amount of oil beneath the Persian Gulf. It is just staggering to imagine what will be the consequences of the spill in the Mexico Gulf too. It’s hartbreaking to think how fast we can get rid of an entire ecosystem. Hope to see in the next years how our energy starts shifting from fossile to renewable sources as well as hidrogen combustion, since, at this speed, petrolum and coal will have been the two energies that have made humanity advance at the highest speed in history, but it will become too our biggest problem for our planets survival.

  22. Wow, these shots are quite impressive. I appreciate how you use your images to really make people think


  23. bhawna taneja Says:

    love your work!

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