Day 66: Make it Stop!

Pensacola Beach, Florida, June 23, 2010 Photos from CNN

June 25, 2010

The country's worst environmental disaster keeps getting worse. It's close to home for me, and I find it difficult to watch the news or even read about it.  The oil spill has turned much of the once sparkling turquoise water of the Gulf of Mexico to a dirty brown. My son flew from Orlando to Texas and said the extent of the spill from the air was shocking.

The spill has resulted in the death of so many marine animals and birds that some species may never recover. The blue fin tuna is one species that is particularly threatened as Bloomberg reports:
Petroleum gushing from a seabed well in the Gulf of Mexico has caused slicks that overlap one of two spawning grounds for Atlantic bluefin. The adult fish lay eggs in the Gulf in April and May before heading to the North Atlantic to feed.

Tuna, which need clean surface water to spawn, may have been covered in oil while chemicals used to break up the oil may damage their eggs, limiting reproduction, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports in its June 28 issue. Atlantic bluefin are on the World Conservation Union’s endangered list after years of overfishing.

“This is a real blow,” said Bill Fox, managing director for fisheries at WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund, which investigates overfishing and illegal catches in the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, the bluefin’s other spawning ground. “The oil plus the dispersants are likely to have a huge effect.”
Over 140 miles of beaches from Louisiana to Florida have been polluted.  These are beaches that are usually filled with summer tourists, but are now filled with sticky goo. One family that did go to the beach in Pensacola, Florida (left) found a beached baby dolphin covered with oil and tried to wipe it off until wildlife rescuers arrived. The dolphin died on way to the animal rescue center. 

The Christian Science Monitor reports:
To many Americans, this might be one of the more enduring images of the Gulf oil spill – dolphins washed ashore, sea turtles dead, pelicans coated in oil. Yet for scientists attempting to count the cost of the Gulf oil spill to local wildlife, the task is not nearly so obvious.

Many dead animals could be sinking before being discovered in the vast Gulf. Autopsies of those found are usually inconclusive, because toxins are quickly metabolized by animal tissue. And the Gulf has long had its own set of environmental problems.

Along the Gulf, observers have reported fish acting peculiarly as the oil spill moves closer to shore, with sharks and rays bunching against beaches. Usually plentiful, porpoises have been missing from the Intracoastal Waterway in the past few days as the oil spill has moved ashore along miles of beaches in Florida's Escambia County near Perdido Key.
Sea turtles are in extreme peril, with many being burned alive:
Of the 535 turtles verified from April 30 to June 22, a total of 403 stranded turtles were found dead, 42 stranded alive. Four of those subsequently died. Four live stranded turtles were released, and 34 live stranded turtles are being cared for at rehabilitation centers.

According to a report in The Raw Story, a rare and endangered species of sea turtle is being burned alive in BP’s controlled burns of the oil swirling around the Gulf of Mexico, and a boat captain tasked with saving them says the company has blocked rescue efforts.
Mike Ellis, a boat captain involved in a three-week effort to rescue as many sea turtles from unfolding disaster as possible, says BP effectively shut down the operation by preventing boats from coming out to rescue the turtles. 
“They ran us out of there and then they shut us down, they would not let us get back in there,” Ellis said in an interview with conservation biologist Catherine Craig. 
Dr. Brian Stacey of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told NPR last week that although there are five different species of sea turtle in the Gulf of Mexico, the majority of the ones found affected by the oil spill are Kemp’s Ridleys, “the rarest of them all.” 
Ellis confirmed that he’s mostly been seeing Kemp’s Ridleys. Kemp’s Ridleys are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Harming or killing one “carries stiff fines and civil penalties ($500 to $25,000) assessed for each violation. Criminal penalties include possible prison time and fines from $25,000 to $50,000.” 
Ellis suggests in a video that, given the size of the fines BP could face as a result of the turtle deaths, the company may be happy to let turtles burn, as it would make it impossible to calculate exactly how many turtles died. He notes that the bodies of dead animals are being kept as evidence to determine for how much in fines BP will be liable.

Part of BP’s efforts to contain the oil spill are controlled burns. Fire-resistant booms are used to corral an area of oil, then the area within the boom is lit on fire, burning off the oil and whatever marine life may have been inside. 
Sharks are moving closer to shore where there is oxygen in the water.

NOAA Ship Pisces reported finding a 25 foot dead sperm whale. From the New York Times:
There are an estimated 1,700 sperm whales that live in gulf waters and they are known to congregate particularly at the mouth of the Mississippi River, a rich feeding ground. Unlike other whales, which travel long distances, these live full-time in the gulf and do not usually mingle with sperm whale pods in the neighboring Caribbean and Sargasso Sea. Ms. Mase said that the dead whale was almost certainly a gulf whale.

The fate of the whales, which have frequently been spotted swimming in the oil by planes overhead, has been of intense concern to wildlife biologists. Because whales are large and very mobile, they are relatively less vulnerable to oil spills than other sea life. However, the whales are classified as endangered and the crude oil is toxic to them. Moreover, they prefer to dive and fish right off the continental shelf, where the Deepwater Horizon wellhead is located, and their sensitivity to the large plumes of oil droplets and the enormous amount of dispersants being used to combat this disaster is unknown.

Hal Whitehead, a biologist who studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, said sperm whales are highly social animals that live in matriarchal groups like elephants. They communicate through noises that sound like clicks, which researchers refer to as a dialect. They have also shown behaviors that resemble mourning. In one case, Dr. Whitehead said, when a young sperm whale died, its mother carried its carcass around in her mouth.

Sperm whales live anywhere from 60 to 100 years, scientists estimate. But they reproduce on average only every five years, which is why even a few whale deaths can be significant, Dr. Whitehead said.
 NOAA closed 86,985 square miles of the gulf to fishing. That represents 36 percent of the Gulf of Mexico. Red Lobster announced that it was removing oysters from the menu.  The company said that they will run out of oysters within the next few weeks as their supplier from Louisiana has shut down.  Prices of seafood are rising as more and more fishermen are out of work and oil pollutes more and more square miles of the gulf each day. Some people also are worried about eating contaminated seafood.

 The oil spill has also resulted in the cancellation of the annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, one of the largest fishing tournaments in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Thousands of sea birds have been found covered in oil and the green reeds of the nesting grounds have been stained a brown-red.

To make things worse we are now in hurricane season and a record number of storms has been predicted for this year:
The federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called for an "active" to "extremely active" hurricane season this year. They predict anywhere from 14 to 23 named storms will form in the Atlantic Basin. Of those named storms, eight to 14 should become hurricanes, including three to seven "major" hurricanes with wind speeds above 111 mph.

This prediction is the highest of any that federal forecasters have made since they began issuing seasonal hurricane forecasts in 1998.
Tropical storm Alex has formed in the Western Caribbean, but luckily the latest reports do not have it passing over the spill.

It just seems that a country that has the technology to send men to the moon should be able to come up with a solution to stop the leak. Even the idea of bombing the oil well so it collapses upon itself may make more sense than allowing the leak to continue to destroy our planet. Make it stop!

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Anonymous said...

Maybe it is not Barak Obama's fault directly, but his advisors simply dropped the opportunity to act quickly. This is a national and international disaster. All hands need to be sent to the Gulf to rescue the wildlife while BP is figuring out a solution. It will take a global effort with ships; boats; people; scientists; environmentalists. The Gulf States, including Florida, will be an environmental and economic wasteland for the next decade.

Anonymous said...

BP was a huge campaign contributor to Obama. That's why he will not declare this a National emergency (which he should). Some new info coming out in a few weeks will certainly confuse and alarm some liberals out there. They will be walking down the street in a catatonic daze.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 7:43

Who are you -Glen Beck? If you have information say it and stop the BS. No one will be walking down the street in a "catatonic daze." We lived through 8 years of Bush.

Saipan Writer said...

The USA doesn't have a good strategy for dealiing with massive disasters.

Bush was ineffective in dealing with Katrina. And that was a storm that started and ended naturally.

Obama has a much more difficult task in dealing with a man-made catastrophe. and BP should be forever barred from even existing. It should be punished in the extreme and its chief executives should be imprisoned for this crime.

But before we get to that, we have to stop the oil. And we haven't yet figured out how to do that. Obama must just federally take over BP now-go in there with all the experts he can get from around the world, figure out what is causing the problems, and stop it.

As your title says--MAKE IT STOP!!!

Anonymous said...

obama blew it. big time.

Anonymous said...

As much as we might like Obama to "take over" BP, he can't. The US Federal Gov't can't assume control over a foreign company.

There is even a dispute about the legal authority to some of the waters. Remember BP prohibiting some US government agencies from entering the area early on?

Wendy said...

I am not sure why you say "Obama blew it." What could any president do to stop a leak unless he is a scientist and it looks like even scientists don't have a solution. If they do where are they?

There should be no oil rigs in the gulf or in any waters. People who support offshore drilling are not environmentalist and are motivated by greed and /or fear. We cannot trust companies to follow guidelines and it looks like no one knows what to do if there is a leak. This could happen on another oil rig. We need to find alternate energy sources fast.

Anonymous said...

Obama was poorly served by those entrusted with protecting the environment and regulatory oversight of companies like BP. Same thing with Bush and FEMA.

But in addition to the environmental catastrophe of epic scale, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida coastal areas will be done as resort destinations. A mere storm or slight weather disturbance may push that oil to South Beach and then, possibly worse, up the Eastern Seaboard. For now, Louisiana is a wasteland and not only will BP pay dearly, if it doesn't go broke, but those who slept while the damage was done will likewise pay the price.

Anonymous said...

i have just watched the news about this company. same accident happened 31 years ago(1979 in alaska), BP had a different name. they are doing now what they did before (remedy) that did not work, and they are still doing it now. how stupid can that be. it did not work then, why do they think it will work now?

they have not done anything or research that will resolve the problem in case same accident will happen (and it happened) to resolve the matter.

in 1979, obama was not the president yet, so anon 5:02 pm., please use your brains.

Anonymous said...

Hillary Clinton went to China to assure the Chinese dictatorship that their investments are safe and sound. Our country has been sold out by these ultra left wing politicians who have basically bowed down to China. As we speak, US troops are fighting and dying to protect Chinese interests in Iraq and Nigeria. It's true. This was our assurance to China - blood for oil and copper. An assurance made by liberal Democrats who are hell bent on bringing us to our knees.

Anonymous said...

my brains are fine. Obama blew it. He demonstrated no leadership skills, enlisted no help from other organizations or countries who offered it. He just sat back and let BP proceed with failure after failure after failure.

2:09 I;d ask u to use your brains, if you indeed were capable of such a event, but, you are obviously not capable of unbiased thought.
1979....has nothing to do with 2010.

Anonymous said...

Obama has mishandled the PR, but what could he have done to stop or prevent or minimize the damage of this disaster? His only error was announcing a change in the Administration's offshore drilling policy right before this catastrophe. Some liberal!