The Beacon

Blog Tags: Gulf Oil Spill

More Dolphin Deaths in the Gulf

Dolphins leaping in the Gulf of Mexico. © Oceana/Carlos Suarez

Andy Sharpless is the CEO of Oceana. You can follow him on Twitter @Oceana_Andy.

Nearly a year has passed since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and began a three-month-long oil spill. In the later months of last year, after the gushing oil well had finally been capped, some people – politicians and TV talking heads, really – tried to convince Americans that the Gulf had recovered.

It’s true that we still don’t know the extent of the damage wrought by last summer’s oil disaster. The subsurface gusher created a whole new scientific challenge when it came to understanding exactly what was going on. And we’ve said that it would be years before we understand the true cost of the disaster.

Just recently we got a sign that not is all well in the Gulf. Since January, more than 80 bottlenose dolphins have turned up dead – and half of those are newborn or stillborn calves. The government is calling it “an unusual mortality event.”


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Preparing to Tag Sharks

The bow of the Oceana Latitude. © Oceana/Carlos Suarez

It’s time for the next leg of the journey: shark tagging! Dustin reports:

The Oceana Latitude is now headed South, down the west coast of Florida.

While the ship is docked in St. Petersburg for the next few days, scientists from Oceana and the National Aquarium, including Discovery Channel shark advisor Andy Dehart, will work to tag various shark species several miles offshore.

In addition to collecting basic data from each shark, the attached metal tags can provide future information on stock identity, movements and migration, abundance, age and growth, mortality, and behavior. The tags can also help identify these sharks later as those that were in the general vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, which could help to determine the long-term impacts of the oil spill on shark populations.

Oceana hopes to see several shark species, including spinner, blacktip, blacknose, dusky, lemon, bull, mako, tiger, hammerhead and bonnethead.


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Leaving Mobile Bay

After making a quick stop in Mobile, AL, the boat is now on its way to Florida, as Dustin reports:

On Wednesday morning the Oceana Latitude pulled up anchor and started to make its way to Port St. Joe, Fla.

As we left Mobile Bay, we passed Dauphin Island, home of the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. Oceana has participated in this conservation-minded fishing tournament in the past, which typically attracts more than 100,000 spectators and more than 3,200 fishermen.

Unfortunately, like so many other summer activities in this part of the Gulf, the Rodeo was canceled this year after the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.


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PA Students Sell Lemonade for the Gulf and Oceana

And now for a sweet story of some young ocean activists in Pennsylvania that we can’t resist sharing:

Earlier this year, the students of Germantown Friends School’s Environmental Action Club had an idea -- they wanted to start a lemonade stand to raise money to fix a machine in the school's greenhouse. Then the gulf oil spill happened, and the greenhouse didn’t seem quite so urgent anymore.

The students decided to give their lemonade funds to organizations helping out with the spill -- including Oceana. They also encouraged members of the community to send letters to Obama and PA congresspeople expressing their opposition to offshore drilling.

Here’s the kicker: Our CEO, Andy Sharpless, was once himself a student at Germantown Friends School. Needless to say, he was thankful and proud of his early alma mater when he heard the news.

Thanks, Germantown Friends!


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New Oceana Magazine Hot Off the Press

The latest issue of the Oceana magazine is available for your reading pleasure. In this issue, along with the latest news, victories and events, we bring you the following outstanding ocean features:

*An interview with Oceana’s Pacific Science Director and oil pollution expert, Jeff Short

*Do you know where your seafood comes from? Digging into the confusing (and sometimes sickening) question of seafood traceability in the U.S.

*A photo essay capturing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill

*A Q&A with “Entourage” star and Oceana supporter, Adrian Grenier, who recently filmed a PSA about bluefin tuna with us.

Read all of these and more in the full issue.


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Actress Sarah Shahi Wants to ‘Stop the Drill’

sarah shahi

Actress Sarah Shahi.

Actress Sarah Shahi is a rising star in Hollywood, and she also happens to be one of Oceana’s newest and most fervent celebrity supporters.

You might recognize Shahi from the Showtime series “The L Word,” where she played Carmen, a bilingual production assistant who moonlights as a DJ.  She has also appeared in the films “Old School,” "For Your Consideration,” and on the TV shows "The Sopranos,” “Dawson’s Creek,” “Frasier” and “Alias.”

But when she’s not acting, she also plays the part of activist. This summer, she learned about our Stop the Drill campaign surrounding the Gulf oil spill and it struck a chord with her. On her Facebook and Twitter pages, she encouraged her supporters to take action with Oceana to stop offshore drilling. She changed her profile photo to a picture of herself holding a sign that read “Stop the Drill,” and she encouraged her supporters and friends to do the same.


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Day 14: Preparing for the Plume

Loading gear onto the Latitude. © Oceana/Carlos Suarez

While Oceana’s senior campaign communications manager Dustin Cranor gets a much-deserved break on land, Pacific administrative assistant Will Race will be sending us updates from the boat for the next few weeks. Here’s Will's first post:

Wednesday brought heat, humidity and eight new Oceana staff members, who will take part in a two-week oil plume experiment. Alongside Vice President of Oceana Europe, Xavier Pastor, the experiment will be led by Pacific Director, Susan Murray and Pacific Science Director, Dr. Jeff Short. The team will head out Friday to begin the study.

The Oceana Latitude also had to say goodbye to ROV operator Matthias Gorny and Oceana Pacific office staff Cayleigh Allen. The two embarked on a three day journey to Monterey, California, where they will participate in the Oceana Pacific California Current expedition and use the ROV to document important ecological areas of Monterey Bay.


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From Reuters UK today:

The oil spill poses a large threat to the Kemp's Ridley population which makes its home in the Gulf.

"This is a major blow to that population," said Todd Steiner, executive director of the California-based Turtle Restoration Project, said. "Here you have a situation where the adults, hatchlings and juveniles are all in the Gulf."


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Day 6: Back to Reality

Here’s your expedition update for today, from Oceana’s senior campaign communications manager Dustin Cranor:

News flash – the oil in the Gulf is not gone.

Although there have been lots of media reports that the oil in the Gulf is "gone," two new scientific studies were released today that give a different -- and less rosy -- picture.

First, independent scientists estimate that as much as 80 percent of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill is still in the Gulf. Even if it's only 50 percent, that’s a lot of oil. Second, and even more disturbing, scientists discovered oil from the spill on the seafloor of Desoto Canyon, which means that oil could be in shallower waters where vulnerable habitats exist.

Oceana believes that the worst of the oil’s impacts are yet to be seen. As part of our effort to document valuable and vulnerable habitats, we took advantage of our location and dove not too far from the same beach that President Obama recently visited in Panama City.

On this nearly 90 foot dive, Oceana’s divers spotted tiny corals, arrow crabs, hermit crabs, flatfish, soapfish and butterflyfish, all species at risk from the effects of oil spills. What many do not realize is that there is simply no effective way to remove oil from coral.

Look at some of the incredible creatures our divers spotted:

 

 


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From CNN.com today:

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill may have settled to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico further east than previously suspected and at levels toxic to marine life, researchers reported Monday.

Initial findings from a new survey of the Gulf conclude that dispersants may have sent the oil to the ocean floor, where it has turned up at the bottom of an undersea canyon within 40 miles of the Florida Panhandle. Plankton and other organisms showed a "strong toxic response" to the crude, according to researchers from the University of South Florida.

"The dispersant is moving the oil down out of the surface and into the deeper waters, where it can affect phytoplankton and other marine life," said John Paul, a marine microbiologist at USF.


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