The Beacon

Blog Tags: Oil Spill

Blog Action Day: The (Offshore) Winds of Change

Today is Blog Action Day, and this year’s theme couldn’t be more relevant to us and all you fantastic ocean activists: water.

Water is also an especially poignant theme given the timing. Next Wednesday is the six-month anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill dominated the news -- and this blog -- for several months, and nobody’s sure what the long-term effects will be on gulf ecosystems.

And yet, just a few days ago, the Obama administration lifted the moratorium on deepwater oil drilling several weeks earlier than planned, and several months before the release of studies about the effects of the oil spill on the gulf.

As Oceana’s pollution campaign director Jackie Savitz said of the decision, “This is an incredibly disconcerting and unjustified move, that could open the door for the next great oil disaster. Oil spills are common. The question is not whether there will be another spill but when.”

But not all the news the past few months has been negative. Yes, the gulf has endured the worst environmental crisis in our nation’s history, but there are signs of hope. Momentum on offshore wind power is building, for one thing.


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Tagging Sharks in the Dry Tortugas

Two expedition updates in one day - hold on to your hats! In this one, Oceana marine scientist Elizabeth Wilson describes yesterday’s successful shark tagging adventures, including a monster nurse shark:

Today we traveled to the Dry Tortugas, a small group of islands at the end of the Florida Keys, to study sharks. On board with us is the shark team from University of Miami’s R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, led by Dr. Neil Hammerschlag. Other members of the team on board are Lab Manager and graduate student Dominique Lazzare and Captain Curt Slonim.

We arrived in the Dry Tortugas National Park, anchored near Fort Jefferson and started surveying for sharks. We had a successful research trip where we tagged and sampled three Caribbean reef sharks and two nurse sharks. We attached identification tags to the Caribbean reef sharks and sent them back on their way. The nurse sharks were too big and feisty to bring on the boat for tagging…one was 10.5 feet long and was the biggest nurse shark any of us had ever seen. 


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Photos from the Alabama Alps

Yesterday you heard about the Latitude’s foray into the Alabama Alps. Today, photos!

Here are some of the cool creatures our deep-sea ROV captured on camera. Which one's your favorite?

Special thanks to Nautica, whose support made our use of the deep sea ROV possible!


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Oceana Divers Explore Life Under Gulf Oil Rig

In today’s update from the boat, expedition leader Xavier Pastor discusses the preparations for the next leg of the journey, and the divers’ exploration of the waters beneath one of the gulf’s myriad oil rigs.

It’s incredible to think about communities of marine life living in the shadows of oil rigs, isn’t it?

Have a burning question about our ongoing expedition in the gulf? Ask it in the comments!

Here's Xavier:

Tuesday, 9/7/10

The Latitude is like an anthill. There’s a crane working on deck to remove some of the materials that were used in the last stage of the expedition: anchors, compressors, chains, ropes, buoys...

Part of the Oceana crew is also packing their bags in order to make room for the new members of the expedition who are slowly making their way to the boat.

The frenetic activity on-board is slowed only by the heat. It’s so hot, and the humidity is so high, that even the boat’s operators have to stop and drink water to avoid dehydration.


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New Poll: 88% of Americans Want Science Before Drilling

Just in time for Secretary Salazar’s visit to the U.S. Arctic, today our colleagues in Alaska released the results of a new nationwide poll on offshore drilling. The poll, conducted by David Binder Research, shows that Americans overwhelmingly support a precautionary approach to offshore drilling. 

According to the poll, 88 percent of the American public thinks it is important for there to be a science-based approach to decision-making and for response capabilities to be in place before any drilling occurs, even if it slows the timeframe for oil drilling. 


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Long Days on Deck to Measure the Plume

The last few days have been a whirlwind for the Latitude crew. Here’s the latest from Will Race on the ongoing experiment to measure the oil plume near the Deepwater Horizon:

Morning came fast on Monday. By 6:30 am the entire crew was on deck ready to deploy the first mooring. But instead of a beautiful sunrise, we were greeted by an unnerving thunder and lighting show.

Eight was the lucky number: The eight man crew successfully deployed eight moorings. The complete process, from the preparation of anchors and lines, to deploying the anchor, marking the line, and clipping on test strips went smoothly and efficiently.

The weather calmed down after the morning storm and was key to the efficiency of the day. For the first time during this leg of the trip, the Oceana team finally had the pleasure of setting the last mooring of the day to a breathtaking sunset.

 


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From today’s San Francisco Chronicle:

"We've said since news first broke and the extent of the gulf tragedy became known that it was certainly going to affect how people in the United States and California view offshore oil," said Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association. "It's a game-changing event."


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John Francis at TEDxOilSpill: Listen, Then Act

Like many of the messages at Monday's TEDxOilSpill conference, John Francis’s was one of hope. Francis, who hasn't used a motorized vehicle since the 1970s and undertook a 17-year vow of silence, gave one of the funniest and most moving talks of the day, underscoring the crucial role that listening plays in activism.

In the early 1970s, Francis stopped riding in vehicles after witnessing an oil spill in San Francisco Bay. He later decided to take a vow of silence, initially for just one day, "because," he said, "I was talking too much." It was more than 6,000 days later before he spoke again. During that time he went on a pilgrimage by foot across America on behalf of the environment and world peace.

Francis finally spoke at the Washington, DC celebration of the 20th anniversary of Earth Day in 1990 to “speak for the environment” and to thank the audience for their participation at the event. 

At Monday's conference, he urged the audience to not just listen, but act. “We’re going to have to do something," he said. "This is our moment. We are going to have to change our lives. I’m inviting us to change our lifestyle. We have such responsibility and such power that we can really make a big difference.”

Here's a short video I took of Francis (he played banjo briefly before he spoke), and to learn more, you can watch his full TED talk from 2008.

John Francis at TEDxOilSpill from Oceana on Vimeo.


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day

From yesterday's Examiner:

“The spill was tragically timed for sea turtles that are nesting in the Gulf right now,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director for the Center [for Biological Diversity]. “Newly hatched sea turtles are swimming out to sea and finding themselves in a mucky, oily mess. News that BP has blocked efforts to rescue trapped sea turtles before they’re burned alive in controlled burns is unacceptable.”  


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Oil Spill Quote of the Day #2

From Monday’s Sydney Morning Herald:

"Well, to quote Tony Hayward, he has got his life back, he would say," [White House Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel said of the outing at the yacht race, alluding to an earlier remark by Hayward that incensed political Washington.

 ...

Emanuel added: "What's more important is, do the people down there in that area have their life back? Do they have their livelihood back?"


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