A silicone helped save otters caught in the 1989 Alaskan oil spill disaster.
The crude oil had soaked into their fur, destroying the air layer that helps
keep them warm as they swim in the icy waters of Prince William Sound. They
were in danger of dying from the cold.
Detergents were used to remove the crude oil, but they removed the natural
waterproofing oils from the otters’ fur. Treating the otters with silicone
fluids similar to those used in hair conditioners gave their fur a temporary
waterproof layer. The silicone kept them protected until they regenerated their
natural hydrophobic coating.