Archive for National Geographic

Tide of Destruction

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 13, 2010 by stevemccurry

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 :

Cultures on the Edge

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by stevemccurry

Vanishing Peoples, Vanishing Livelihoods

Tightrope Walker

Rajasthan, India, 2009


Tibet, 2007

Since the beginning of time, nomads have roamed the world and have been an essential part of economic and cultural activity around the globe.


Tibet, 2007

South Asia has the world’s largest nomadic population. In India, there are more than 500 nomadic groups, roughly 80 million people, but every day their traditional ways of life are disappearing.


Tibet, 2007

The diversity of the livelihoods of each of these nomadic communities is staggering.  Each one fills a particular socio-economic niche, fulfilling a specific need of village or sedentary communities.

Each of these groups is threatened by a variety of factors:  urban sprawl, cheaper factory goods, modern technology,  stringent wildlife laws and governmental pressure.


Nomad Children, Amdo, Tibet, 2001



Kuchi Shepherd, Kashmir, 1995

The Kuchis of Afghanistan have to travel long distances to avoid drought, dust storms, and wars. They are about 10% of Afghanistan’s population and are an important part of the foundation of Afghanistan’s exports of wool, carpet, and animal hides.  Because they travel to remote regions, the Kuchis have been instrumental in taking manufactured goods to remote areas, and rather than being a relic from the past, they are relevant, but drought and social pressures are impacting their way of life that has survived for centuries.



Kuchi Nomads, Kandahar, Afghanistan, 1992

The fate of all nomadic peoples is precarious, but it is vital to recognize that their way of life has served them and their regions well for centuries, and that perhaps it is worth a Herculean effort to help them survive.


Tuareg Woman, Mali, 1986

My pictures of India’s nomads were published in the February issue of National Geographic Magazine:


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37,271 other followers