Guest Blog: Plunder & Blunder in the Ocean (the oil spill tragedy)

By now I’m sure all of you have heard about the environmentally tragic oil spill in the Gulf Coast and how it’s so negatively effecting wildlife, sea-life and all the people who depend on these things for their survival…actually, the extent of this BP disaster will effect everyone globally on one level or another.
Now I know this is mainly an arts blog, however, art and nature and environmentalism are very connected and most artists I know are very involved with environmental and wildlife preservation & protection, so I felt this article was something I had to share!

Below is an excellent piece written by Carol Davidson-Hagarty, a talented writer, a huge animal/environmental rights person…and she’s my cousin!! She works for the educational publishing company Amsco in NY & they publish
very informative blogs. Please read Carol’s article below, which includes her past experiences working with the Jaques Cousteau organization, CALYPSO, and visit the direct link to see some amazing photos!
Take it away, Carol!!!

PLUNDER IN THE OCEAN
You would have to be hiding under a rock at the bottom of the sea not to know about the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and the subsequent oil leak occurring in the Gulf of Mexico. Then again, if you were hiding there, nearly a mile below the ocean surface, you would most likely know anyway, since the oil—many thousands of barrels per day—would be dispersing all around your head.

For years, people have been taught to believe that the ocean bottom is a nearly lifeless wasteland on which we can drill oil, drag scouring trawlers, and dump radioactive wastes without giving any consideration to the potential effects of these actions. Now, that way of thinking is changing for millions of people, partly because the effects of this recent spill are far-reaching. This view is also changing because, among other discoveries, just last year researchers discovered an entire deep-water coral community in, of all places, the Gulf of Mexico. According to a June 1 New York Times article, their undersea robot “revealed a thriving colony of corals, anemones, fish, crustaceans and other sea life rivaling that of any shallow-water reef in the world.” How sad that this could be lost, just after being discovered.

Unlike a spill from an oil tanker, this is an on-going oil leak; so there are newspaper reports with maps showing the outline of the expanding oil slick and photographs showing oil-soaked brown pelicans struggling to move and breathe. To date, it is estimated that hundreds of seabirds (such as pelicans), marine mammals (such as dolphins), and endangered sea turtles have been sickened and killed by the crude oil both in and on the Gulf’s waters. Those animals that can be saved are being treated at special facilities. However, this loss is in addition to the thousands of fish and millions of invertebrates that cannot escape from the effects of the oil. Another great fear is that more damage to wildlife will occur if and when the oil washes ashore in marshlands along the Gulf coast. These marsh ecosystems are among the most productive in nature; they are where countless shorebirds and fish species breed.

This damage is a very high price for nature to pay in order for us to maintain our modern lifestyle. So, why do I feel so strongly about this? I grew up watching “The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau” (see below) on TV; and then, after college, I had the great privilege of working for oceanographer and scuba co-inventor Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau himself. (That’s me in the top photo, onboard the Calypso.) He was one of the first people who tried to persuade key members of various governments to protect the ocean and its living resources. And his message has had a lasting impact on me.

The Captain’s work is being carried on by two of his grandchildren: Philippe Cousteau, Jr., and Fabien Cousteau. Shortly after the Gulf oil-rig accident, and in the Cousteau tradition of undersea filming, Philippe dove into the water to film the effects of the spill and of a chemical dispersant that BP was using. A news reporter who joined the filming said that the “water [is] thick with … oil” and that it was “one of the most horrible things [I’ve] ever seen underwater.”

Grandson Fabien spoke at an “Ocean Abyss” panel discussion (sponsored by World Science Festival), which I attended last Saturday, and discussed the possible effects on the Gulf’s ecosystem. A point raised at the discussion was that we really do not know the effects of the dispersants on marine life, and in some cases it might be even more toxic to creatures than the oil itself. The four scientists on the panel pointed out that oil, after all, is a natural substance; and there are many bacteria that naturally feed on it and would help break it down over time. Fabien also mentioned that there are about 80 other oil rigs along our U.S. coasts that present the same possible threats to our waters. All the panel members stressed that the deep ocean is home to hundreds of newly discovered species and unusual natural communities; that the world’s people depend on the ocean for much of their food and well-being; and that, because of this, more resources have to be put into deep-sea research and protection.

Here’s the link to the blog site where it’s posted: http://amscoextra.blogspot.com/2010/06/plunder-and-blunder-in-ocean.html
…check it out so you can see the amazing photos Carol posted and read other interesting & educational blogs about world events.

Enjoy!
~Lauren

6 thoughts on “Guest Blog: Plunder & Blunder in the Ocean (the oil spill tragedy)

  1. […] I grew up watching The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau (see below) on TV; and then, after college, I had the great privilege of working for oceanographer and scuba co-inventor Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau himself. …More Here […]

  2. Excellent piece on this oil spill. We are all sick at what’s happening on the surface and on land, but there is an entire ecosystem underwater that we are not paying enough attention to. BP is killing the Gulf! What a terrible, terrible loss.

  3. gail says:

    itsbeyond sad … its beyond tragic … i pray each day for higher consciousness of all peoples … if this catastrophe (man-made) isn’t a catalyst for major change what is …

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