They harbor close to 150 species of plants and animals that can't be found anywhere else, including the island fox. (Video via The Earth Minute)
While the islands are some 50 miles from the site of the spill, and land-dwelling species probably won't be affected, it's hard to gauge the impact on marine life.
That's because the oil won't harm a lot of its victims directly — instead, experts say oil does the worst of its damage killing off plants and tiny animals at the bottom of the food chain, disrupting the ecosystem. (Video via Al Jazeera)
The 1969 oil spill that pumped some 3 million gallons into the channel was blamed for the deaths of some 3,500 sea birds alone.
If there's good news, it's that this latest spill is a tiny fraction of that one: The pipeline was pumping well below capacity at the time of the spill. Investigators have yet to determine the exact cause of the leak. (Video via CNN)
This video includes an image from the U.S. Geological Survey.