Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Our Long, Troubled Relationship with Whales - Slate

I really recommend this particular story. It's not so much scientific as it is historical, but a good read nonetheless.

So perfectly written, this commentary is from author Philip Hoare, who wrote The Whale. A good story about how our relationship with whales has changed over the decades - by a lot and a little at the same time.

"The truth is now, as it's ever been: We need whales more than they need us. Once we hunted them for their industrial resources. Now we demand to be entertained by them. What they want, most probably, is to be left alone."

Full article here (Slate)

BP Welcomes You to the Apocalypse - Common Dreams

Well, this is interesting...And hilarious in a sick, twisted way - if you're into that.

How bad can the Gulf oil spill get? What is the worst-case scenario? How bad can it be? We've all read about multiple situations that are indeed bad. Some of them are actually coming to life, unfortunately. In this article, Mark Morford has indeed found a worse worst-case scenario. Two, actually.

"I come bearing fabulous news. There is no longer any need to concern yourself with pesky trifles like love, a mortgage, child rearing, planting a garden, dreams, money, shoes, wristwatches, parking spaces, mysterious rashes, foreign policy, baseball, bridge tolls or generally caring about much of anything in particular."

Why?? Well, you'll just have to read the article. :)

Full article here (Common Dreams)

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A Tragic Day for Humpback Whales - WSPA

Updates from the IWC meetings:

Greenland has been awarded nine humpback whale kills per year for the next three years. The country has not hunted whales since the moratorium was put into place in 1986, so this movement is actually an increase in the number of future whale deaths, not a decrease as many had hoped this meeting would lead to. The need for whaling in Greenland is controversial; Greenlanders say it is for an aboriginal hunt, but since the moratorium has been put in place and the hunt ceased they have not shown any evidence of the need to reinstate it.

This development particularly worries me, as the whales that will be hunted could possibly be the familiar flukes I've come to recognize on whale watches off of New England.

"WSPA’s 2008 investigation ‘Exploding Myths’ showed that around a quarter of Greenland’s whaling is commercial in nature and it seems that commercial markets are only increasing."

As the IWC comes to a close, environmentalists are grateful that the moratorium was not lifted, but saddened that the illegal hunting of whales will continue by rebel nations.

Full article here (WSPA)

Why the UK Banned Corexit - Clean the Gulf Now!

This article shows the documents from the UK's test of Corexit oil dispersants. Limpets (a type of snail), which were used as the "guinea pigs," were sprayed with either oil or Corexit and the number of snails that lost their adhesion abilities were counted as dead - due to their inability to stick to surfaces and protect themselves. In reality they could have been killed by the oil, dispersants, loss of adhesion abilities or a combination of the three. The test documents' mortality rates show that Corexit alone is twice as lethal as oil.

An update of this article points out that the limpet test does not necessarily extend to other rocky shore animals or animals living in the open sea - which is a good point. Still, the potential damage Corexit may cause cannot be questioned.

Full article here (Clean the Gulf Now!)

Countdown: Dr. Riki Ott Alleges BP Engaged in Massive Cover-Up to Hide Gulf Disaster Damage - YouTube

Dr. Riki Ott, a marine toxicologist who worked on Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, speaks on Countdown with Keith Oberman. She is reporting that cleanup workers and people who are spending time in the water (surfers, turtle rescuers) are experiencing symptoms such as headaches, sore throats, nausea, dizziness, congestion and skin rashes - across all four affected states.

"It's chemical poisoning, very likely," she says.

She also reports that the dead animals that wash up are disappearing within 15 minutes of their beaching. Massive kills are being reported at some of the outer islands where the oil sheen has reached, but these carcasses mysteriously never make it to shore, or at least not long enough for anyone to photograph and document them. Heads and bodies are separated and are raked up into vans and carted away. The claim is that all of these animals will be autopsied to determine cause of death, but as Dr. Ott states:

"You're not gonna autopsy a carcass where the head is removed from the body.

What's also strange is that anything from photos to emails mentioning the death of oiled animals are being deleted from servers. BP has been using metal detectors to stop cleanup workers from taking cameras and even cell phones to the spill sites.

Oberman mentioned it appears to be "An attempt to suppress this, and also a very effective attempt to suppress this information and these images."

Dr. Ott believes this spill has the potential to evolve from an environmental disaster to a human one.

"We need Obama to stand up and order respirators on all the response workers now, to avert a human tragedy."

Video here (YouTube)

Monday, 28 June 2010

Hands Across the Sand; A Summary

Well, we did it! We're officially on the front page of CNN US!

And here's another version!

Congratulations to all who went, we attracted some serious attention! Events were held in all 50 US states and in 37 countries worldwide. There were over 900 total events across the planet.

All around the world, in their respective time zones, people began to gather at 11:00am. At 12:00 noon they linked hands across beaches, lakes, parks and public areas to stand together and say no to offshore oil drilling, and yes to renewable energy.

“I know we are all guilty of using oil, I just wish that people could see what is at risk by continuing to deepwater drill in the Gulf of Mexico. There has to be a better way,” said Shelly Swanger of Seaside, Florida.

"Protesters in London were among those taking part in the action. At St James's Park a small group of environmentalists joined hands on the Blue Bridge as Big Ben struck 12 o'clock in the background. Organizer Charlotte Pulver said: 'We are so oil dependent, especially the US, and they are taking extreme risks. 'And extreme risks can cause extreme disasters.'"

Our London event was admittedly comparatively small, but check out our super sweet photos that we took walking across the city with our Hands Across the Sand sign!

We have pelicans too!!

This is outside of BP World Headquarters
...we got chased away shortly after.

You can also check out the super-awesome video Lexi Riddiford-Bell put together for us here!

And if you haven't already, you simply must MUST check out the collection of photos from all of the worldwide events. They're on the Hands Across the Sand Flickr account, here. Seriously check them out. Some of them are AMAZING!!

Full articles here:

Hundreds of People Line Florida Shore in Protest at BP Spill as Tropical Storm Threatens to Disperse Oil Further (DailyMail)

Gulf Journals: 'I Know we are All Guilty' (CNN iReport)

PS- I'm the one in the white Tshirt!

We've now made CNN's front page Featured Story! Check it out!!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Meals of Mass Destruction: Shrimp - Huffington Post

Unlike other shrimping nations, the vast majority of US shrimp is caught, not farmed. Most of it comes from the Gulf of Mexico...well, until now.

But that's hardly the problem with the shrimping industry. The problem lies within their methods.

Shrimp farming, like any fish farming - or farming in general, - is dirty. In the sense that farms produce massive amounts of waste. Shrimp farms are usually located on coasts and will drain their wastes off into the water supply, contaminating surrounding environments and communities. Bacteria and infection are common, and just as common are toxic "medicines" like chloramphenicol (a carcinogen) and sodium triphosphate (a neurotoxin). Yummy.

Shrimp fishing is just as bad. The traditional method is trawling, which essentially scrapes the seafloor clean of whatever was there. Sure they catch the shrimp, but they also catch everything else. This is called "bycatch" and it is the capture of non-target species, which are usually left to die while the shrimpers collect their bounty.

"Unfortunately neither fishing nor farming is a truly sustainable way to produce shrimp. Farming is responsible for habitat destruction and is often done cheaply, producing a lower quality product, while trawling for wild shrimp is harmful to the oceanic environment and its inhabitants. So which is the lesser of the two evils? There's no easy answer."

Fortunately, this article provides a lovely list - with links - on what you can do to become a more eco-conscious shrimp eater. If nothing else, at least check out the list. There's some good stuff there! And don't forget to buy the rest of your seafood sustainably too!

Full article here (Huffington Post)

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Global Whaling Moratorium Stands as IWC Shelves Compromise Plan - Environment News Service

photo credit ENS via Institute of Cetacean Research

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was unable to reach an agreement on the issue of whether or not to end the 24-year moratorium on commercial whaling. The argument has been put on hold for a year. A few quotes:

"The 88 IWC member governments meeting in Agadir failed to agree on the proposed compromise between whale conservation nations and whaling nations that would have legalized whaling in return for bringing the hunt under IWC control. Currently, three whaling nations - Japan, Norway and Iceland - set their own quotas without regard for the moratorium observed by all other countries."

"The lack of sufficient flexibility shown by Japan to phase out its whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary prevented a decision from being adopted. Continuation of the impasse here may retain the whaling moratorium on paper, but unregulated whaling outside of IWC control, by Japan, Norway, and Iceland, will now be able to continue,"
said Susan Lieberman, director of Pew Environment's international policy.

"Said Wendy Elliott, WWF International Species Manager: "A compromise solution which brings whaling under the control of the IWC is clearly needed, and governments at this meeting failed to find a way forward. Once again, they have put politics before science.""

"The proposal it produced could not withstand public scrutiny and ignored the overwhelming global support for permanent protection for whales,"
said Patrick Ramage, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare's Global Whale Campaign. "Any future process of negotiation should not leave the views, expertise, and perspective of the global NGO community sitting outside."

I had very strong feelings going into this meeting (not that I was physically there, but you know what I mean). I felt, as millions of people do, that whaling is an inhumane and unacceptable practice that has no commercial need. As this meeting went on, however, it became very apparent that we were not going to come to an agreement with the whaling nations. David Shiffman, on Twitter as WhySharksMatter, posted the question two days ago: "Is it better to have whaling be illegal and have lots of whales die, or be legal and have fewer whales die?" It made me think. Of course I would rather have fewer whales die - if I had to choose between the two. But that means voting in favor of re-opening commercial whaling, and there's just something not right about that. It's just not okay with me, and millions of other people across the world feel the same way. There's no commercial need. We know that now. It's been proven.

I would also like to see something published from Japan's "research" whaling (By the way, I love how every article I read now has the quotes around it: "research"). As far as I know there hasn't been a single thing in 24 years.

Full article here (Environment News Service)

Oiled Dolphin Found near Ft. Pickens - Fox News

A young female dolphin stranded herself, covered in oil. The rest of her pod swam anxiously by as they cried to each other.

"It had beached itself. Its sides were covered in a quarter inch of oil. We started splashing water, scraped oil off it sides and off its eyes," said Christy Travis, who found the dolphin. "It was very sad, it would make you cry. It was crying. There was pod of dolphins just off surf and they were jumping out of water and they were making noise."

Responders from the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge came immediately, but the dolphin died shortly after.

Now, I have something to say. It's going to sound heartless, but it's extremely important for anyone who ever finds a stranded animal to know. If you ever find a stranded animal, DO NOT touch it. Do not get close to it. This is not for your protection, this is for the protection of the animal. I know, it's heartbreaking to see an animal like a dolphin suffering and in need of help, but the truth is that this animal most likely died because of the stress caused by being handled by humans - not the oil. This was a young animal, and chances are it had never seen a human before. Now all of a sudden it's caked in a strange toxic substance that's affecting its ability to swim, and people are lifting it out of the water and surrounding it. I know these people meant well - of course they meant well. There is no doubt. But the fact is that dolphins are wild animals that are not used to being handled, and once a dolphin reaches a certain stress point, there is no coming back. It will die.

This is why we have thousands of responders all across the country. They have been trained in the proper techniques for handling and dealing with a stranded animal. Marine animals are particularly vulnerable because they are out of their element - literally. I have been trained as a marine mammal and sea turtle stranding responder, and it's hard work. It's not what your instincts tell you to do when you see an animal that needs help. The best thing you could do for a stranded animal is to stay away, give it some room, try to keep quiet, keep other people at least 50ft away and call a responder. Call the police, call animal control, call your local zoo or aquarium, call someone who is qualified to handle the situation. Your job as the person who found the animal is to protect it from curious people and dogs. Staying away and calling for help is the best thing you can do. I know it's hard, but that is the single best thing you can do. And you will be helping a lot.

For more on what you can do if you ever find a stranded marine mammal, please visit the Marine Mammal Center's stranding information page by clicking here.

Full article here (Fox News)

Oil Rain In Louisiana? - YouTube

It's raining oil. HistoryTours posted a video on YouTube of what appears to be oil rain. The filmer states that the thick, brown, foamy appearance of the rain is consistent with what was seen in the Gulf the day before. As the video pans around the area, you can see the sheen on the streets and puddles. You have to check this out.

Video here (YouTube)

Oil Cap Removed: Oil Spill Now Gushing Unchecked - Huffington Post

This is fucking ridiculous. How many things are going to go wrong here? Isn't this one incident proof enough that maybe we shouldn't be drilling miles down into the ocean?

A robot knocked the cap off of the well. A ROBOT KNOCKED THE CAP OFF OF THE WELL. How ridiculous is that?

Meanwhile, the six-month moratorium on new offshore drilling has been blocked by a US District judge. Obama is appealing the ruling. In a surprisingly sane move:

"Several companies, including Shell and Marathon Oil, said they would await the outcome of any appeals before they start drilling again."

I guess they don't want their asses on the line. But who could blame them? I'd be cautious too. I think everyone should be, but apparently not all of us are.


"BP said Wednesday that [BP Managing Director Bob] Dudley has been appointed to head the new Gulf Coast Restoration Organization, which is in charge of cleaning up the spill. He takes over from BP CEO Tony Hayward, who has been widely criticized for his handling of the crisis."

I guess you can get back to your life now, Tony.

Full article here (Huffington Post)


Cap replaced: link
This article also mentions two clean-up workers have died, causes unlinked as of yet, but I'm suspicious.

Whaling by the Numbers (InfoGraphic) - SciBlogs

I love InfoGraphics. This one is admittedly less exciting than the last, but check it out!

PS- The yellow is actually what we call "illegal" whaling. Basically these are instances where people knowingly choose to disobey the law. Somehow, we call it "under permit" for whaling, but you get arrested and go to jail for anything else...hmm.

InfoGraphic here (SciBlogs)

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

What Happens When Oil Collides with Coral? - CBS News

Trouble in the Florida Keys.

Marine scientist Meaghan Johnson has been building a nursery for corals for nine years. Coral reefs in the Keys have been ravaged over the past few decades by disease, rising water temperatures and pollution. Johnson takes clippings of corals and raises them into new structures; much like a botanist would do with a plant. Once the corals are old enough, they can be transplanted into a reef to replace damaged corals.

photo credit CBS News

But now a new threat looms only a few hundred meters away...oil.

""It's definitely devastating to watch what's happening in the gulf and know that it could come here," Johnson said. "I think we are all worried about what's going to happen in this project.""

Full article here (CBS News)

Large Oil Spills are Old News in the Niger Delta - The Age

photo credit The Age via Jane Hahn/NYT

An oil spill the size of the Exxon Valdez has been occurring every year for 50 years in the Niger Delta. That's a total oil spill of about 546 million gallons. Spills are caused by faulty equipment which has gone unchecked for years, or by sabotage and oil pirating.

"The spills here are all the more devastating because this ecologically sensitive wetland region, the source of 10 per cent of US oil imports, has most of Africa's mangroves and, like the Louisiana coast, has fed the interior for generations with its abundance of fish and crops."

Oil companies are pretty content to play the blame game when it comes to the cause of the spills.

"Caroline Wittgen, a spokeswoman for Shell in Lagos, said: ''We don't discuss individual spills.'' But she argued that the ''vast majority'' were caused by sabotage or theft, with only 2 per cent due to equipment failure or human error. ''We do not believe that we behave irresponsibly, but we do operate in a unique environment where security and lawlessness are major problems,'' Ms Wittgen said."

Other sources, however, claim that a spill can be traced back to a corroded pipeline almost over year.

Full article here (The Age)

BP Oil Slick Now Threatens 60 Percent of America's Tidal Marshes - EnergyBoom

At least check out this map. I'm not gonna shrink it and post it because it makes a greater statement at the original size.

We already know the spill has affected the Northern Gulf Ecoregion - where most of the reports have been coming from - but now it is threatening an additional two regions. It's close to entering the Southern Gulf Ecoregion, and the South Florida/Bahaman Atlantic Ecoregion is next after that.

There is a link from this article to download the spill trajectory file for Google Earth, if you'd like to keep an eye on this.

Full article here (EnergyBoom)

Monday, 21 June 2010

No One Eats Whales. Why Does Anyone Kill Them? - The Big Money

Subtitle: "More jobs are created by watching the creatures than by hunting them."

Watch this:

"The University of Iceland study said that taking and processing 300 whales annually could sustain—wait for it—80 to 90 jobs."

"Whales can provide jobs, however—for the whale-watching industry. Just as East Africa profitably evolved from a Big Game hunting ground to a prime destination for photo safaris, a just-released working paper from the University of British Columbia reports that whale-watching has become a $2.1 billion business that employs 13,000 workers in 68 nations to entertain 13 million annual viewers. That tally could increase by $830 million, creating jobs in scores of additional maritime countries for a further 11,000 workers—many of them idled professionals whose local fish stocks have been scooped up by trawlers."


"A National Public Radio story broadcast Monday noted that “the desperate, immediate postwar period is the only time in Japanese history when whale meat was consumed nationwide.”"

Case closed?

Full article here (The Big Money)

Fight Looms over Plan to Lift 25-Year Ban on Commercial Whaling - Telegraph

photo credit Telegraph via ALAMY

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is meeting this week - right now - to determine the future of the world's whales.

"The five-day meeting in the resort of Agadir is arguably the commission's most important gathering since 1986, when a moratorium on commercial whaling halted the factory-style slaughter of tens of thousands of animals every year."

The drafted proposal intends to bring Japan, Norway and Iceland back under the control of the IWC in exchange for the re-opening of commercial whaling. Whaling will be re-opened in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, which harbors the most pristine waters in areas least disturbed by humans. It is also an important feeding ground for many whale species. Australia, Germany and millions of conservationists across the globe have been tough in opposing the draft, stating that proposed catch quotas need to be based on scientific evidence - not previous catches and political pull.

Full article here (Telegraph)

“Closed Doors” Policy at IWC Meeting is Unacceptable - WWF

photo credit WWF via Fundacion Yubarta

Personally, I'm extremely disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised.

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has made a decision to close its doors to civil society and the media. Discussions on whether or not to lift the 24-year moratorium on commercial whaling will occur behind closed doors, unbeknownst to the public.

"The issues discussed at the IWC are of enormous public interest. We already had two years of closed doors negotiations leading up to this point, and now is the moment to open up a transparent and honest discussion," says Wendy Elliott, Species Manager at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International.

Honestly, I still can't believe we're even talking about this.

Full article here (WWF)

Give Whales a Voice

This is actually an awesome idea. I love when organizations get creative and get people involved! Give Whales a Voice and WSPA have joined forces to end whaling for good:

"In partnership with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), we aim to record every word in the Oxford English dictionary (give or take a few), which we'll use to tell the International Whaling Commission (IWC) how Australia feels about whaling. And help put an end to it once and for all. All we need from you is one word."

After the introduction, you are given a word. You can record it on your mobile phone or straight from your computer. Give Whales a Voice will use these recordings to address the IWC about putting an end to whaling.

So go get a word!! Quick! The meetings are staring!! Literally, right now!!!!!!!

My word was "from." :)

Give Whales a Voice
Whale Talk Blog (WSPA) - updates on the IWC meetings!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Greenpeace Softens Line on Whaling - The Age

It's sad, but true. The world's original "Save the Whales" organization has signed a deal with Japan to re-open commercial whaling.

I don't know how I feel about Greenpeace. They've done their fair share raising awareness, and they do a lot of good on that front...but at the same time I always hear about them doing stupid things. Like refusing to help other environmental groups with the same goals, and now this. Greenpeace is okay with whaling? Then why did they help to put the moratorium in place 24 years ago?

This is extremely disappointing, and I'm afraid I can no longer support them. You might want to re-think who you give your donations to.

Full article here (The Age)

Venice, Louisiana, Boat Captain/ by Catherine Craig - YouTube

A boat captain hired by BP to help rescue sea turtles caught in the oil speaks about his experience. Capt. Mike Ellis was surprised how easy it was to catch the normally elusive turtles now that they are covered in oil. He describes a situation where BP drove his boat away from the rescue site and proceeded to set the entire scene on fire. Turtles included.

The turtle rescue program has now been shut down due to BP's interference.

Video here (YouTube)

Aerial Photos of the Oil Slick - TED

The latest in photos. The sheer scale of the spill is astounding.

photo credit James Duncan Davidson

Full article here (TED)

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Hands Across the Sand - A Worldwide Event

image credit Hands Across the Sand

On June 26th at 11am - in your respective time zone - something is happening. We are gathering to take a stand against offshore drilling and the destruction it causes.

"Hands Across the Sand is a movement made of people of all walks of life and crosses political affiliations. This movement is not about politics; it is about protection of our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife, and fishing industry. Let us share our knowledge, energies and passion for protecting all of the above from the devastating effects of oil drilling."

There are events worldwide! Anyone can go!

The instructions are simple:
-Gather at your beach/location at 11am
-Join hands in a line at 12pm to take your stand!

For more information, click here!

I'm going, are you?

Girl Uses Art to Raise Funds for Birds in Gulf Oil Spill - CNN

image credit Olivia Bouler

And now for something completely adorable. Seriously, I got all teary!!

Olivia Bouler, an 11-year-old girl from New York, is offering original paintings to the first 500 donors that help her raise $25,000 to help birds victimized by the Gulf oil spill. She has completed about 250 paintings and plans to finish the rest over summer holiday. So far, Olivia has raised over $110,000!

""Many people are outraged and don't know where to vent that because they can't drive to the beach and help. So what Olivia has done has set a beautiful example by using her skills and creating an initiative that is fruitful for everyone," said Delta Willis, the senior communications manager for The National Audubon Society."

To donate to Olivia's fund, click here!

Full article here (CNN)

Sea Creatures Flee Oil Spill, Gather Near Shore - AP

This is becoming more and more of a disaster. Marine scientists have found that the spill in the Gulf of Mexico is triggering some unnatural behavior in ocean life.

photo credit AP via Derick E. Hingle

Fish, dolphins, sharks and birds are all packing in close to the shores, supposedly to escape the pollution in their more natural habitats. This is bad for several reasons.

First, and most obviously, the oil is tainting their normal homes deeper into the Gulf. The fact that so many animals are hanging out close to shore means that something is amiss further out - and they're trying to get away from it.

""A parallel would be: Why are the wildlife running to the edge of a forest on fire? There will be a lot of fish, sharks, turtles trying to get out of this water they detect is not suitable," said Larry Crowder, a Duke University marine biologist."

Second, and maybe not so obviously, more animals in less water equals less available dissolved oxygen. Fish, sharks and many other marine creatures need the oxygen dissolved in water to breathe. The more fish in a given area, the less oxygen there is to share amongst them. Think of it as being sealed in an air-tight room with thousands of other people. There's only so much air to go around.

Third, the animals that are being seen now are trapped between the oil slick and the shore. They can't get out in either direction. Eventually, if something is not done, all of these marine creatures that are trying to race to safety will be covered in oncoming oil.

"Their ability to avoid it may be limited in the long term, especially if in near-shore refuges they're crowding in close to shore, and oil continues to come in. At some point they'll get trapped," Crowder said. "It could lead to die-offs."

Full article here (AP)

Friday, 18 June 2010

Saving Endangered Feces - Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

"We have always known that whales are more valuable alive than dead, and now German and Australian scientists have discovered that even whale shit is valuable and contains some fifty tons of iron annually that has to be among one of the most unusual remedies for global warming."

Hmm...Well that's...novel.

According to a study headed by Trish Lavery of Flinders University, whale poop removes about 240,000 tons of carbon from the environment.

"Whale feces contributes more to a healthy planet than anything humans do. What the whales take from the environment, they return with interest. Humanity, on the other hand, plunders without guilt or remorse with the arrogant justification that we are semi-divine and all of nature is to be ours for the taking."

In conclusion, Capt. Paul Watson always has the perfect words to drive a point home:

"We need their shit. They don’t need ours!"

Full article here (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

BP Will Set Aside $20 Billion for Oil Spill Victims - The New Haven Register

$20 billion will be set aside by BP to cover claims by victims of the oil spill. Obama's "Pay Czar," Kenneth Feinberg - who also handled payouts to the families of 9/11 victims - will be handling the funds.

BP might not be the only one having to pay, however. People are looking at Transocean Ltd. - who owned a majority interest in the rig, and Anadarko Petroleum - who owns a 25% non-operating interest in the well.

A paragraph here worth emphasizing:

"Obama’s forceful tone about BP’s behavior shows how far matters have deteriorated. The White House once had described BP as an essential partner in plugging the crude oil spewing from the broken well beneath nearly a mile of water. Now Obama says BP has threatened to destroy a whole way of life."

Full article here (New Haven Register)

EU Ends Bluefin Tuna Season Early Over Depleted Stocks - BBC

photo credit BBC

Raise your hand if you saw it coming!

Tuna fishing grounds in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic have been shut down to industrial purse seine fishing methods, which make up over 70% of tuna catches.

"The Commission has declared a zero tolerance approach towards overfishing and will take all necessary measures to ensure full compliance across the board."


Purse seine fishing is arguably one of the worst fishing methods out there. It's massively scaled nets allow for the enveloping of entire schools of fish, leaving none behind. This is extremely dangerous when we're talking about an endangered species - or any species for that matter. Fishing as "efficient" as this wipes out entire local populations and erases genetic diversity - which is key to healthy populations worldwide.

But don't worry, the populations aren't "that endangered" - just ask Japan!

Personally, I've taken tuna off my menu (and effectively that of those around me). There's just something messed up about eating an
endangered species.

Full article here (BBC)

Deep Sea Fish 'Mystery Migration' Across Pacific Ocean - BBC

"Deep sea fish species found in the north Pacific Ocean have mysteriously been caught in the southwest Atlantic, on the other side of the world."

image source BBC via A. Arkhipkin

A giant rattail grenadier, a pelagic eelpout and a gonate squid have been found on the Patagonian Shelf off the Falkland Islands. No one knows just how they got there, but it is suspected that they were transported via deepwater currents.

"These flow south, across the equator, moving past South America underneath another northbound flow called the Humboldt Current. Finally, this flow mixes with another called the Upper Circumpolar Deep Water to pass through the Drake Passage, which separates South America and Antarctica, to the Southwest Atlantic."

Full article here (BBC)

Coral Reefs vs. Poisonous Seaweed: Overfishing Gives Dangerous Seaweed an Edge - RTSea

I can probably never tell you how interesting corals are. Most people just kind of look at them like pretty flowers of the sea - most people don't even know that they are in fact animals!

Well, we talked about this breifly two posts ago...What we recognize as coral is actually both plant and animal, living symbiotically. A "plantanimal," as a friend of mine likes to call them. The fleshy animal polyp part lives with the photosynthesizing algae part in the hard stony home the polyp builds for them both. When conditions are bad and the relationship is no longer mutually beneficial, the algae peace out and the coral will turn white and die. We call this bleaching.

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have found that several species of seaweed contain poisonous chemicals that are lethal upon contact to corals. Contact with these seaweeds will cause tissue death and coral bleaching. What's more is that once a part of the coral is dead, seaweeds will often colonize that area and begin spreading, causing more coral tissue death as they go. The study has found that in protected areas, there is a large enough herbivorous fish population to keep the seaweeds in check and the corals healthy. In areas that are overfished, however, the seaweed is eaten more slowly or not at all and the damage is allowed to spread.

photo credit RTSea via Mark Hay

Full article here (RTSea)

The Presidential Address: Remarks on the BP Oil Spill

Alright. Obama.

Honestly I didn’t find a lot in his address, which can be found in full text (and video) here. He seemed to me to start out well, and then kind of fade out and finish in the same political blah-blah that we always hear.

So, he’s “directed” BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology in their efforts to stop the leak. The goal is that in a few weeks (weeks!) they will be capturing up to (up to…) 90% of the spewing oil, until the relief well is finished and it can be plugged for good.

A few excerpts:

“Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it's not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.”

This is a good point that I’m finding many people aren’t quite grasping. This will be going on for some time. It’s not an isolated disturbance that we can hurry up and fix, it’s an ongoing problem – and it will be for literally decades. I see a lot of people online saying things like “UGH, they’re still talking about the oil spill? Isn’t that over?” No, honey, it’s not. This ain’t no spill of orange juice on your countertop. We can’t Brawny this away.

“You know, for generations, men and women who call this region home have made their living from the water. That living is now in jeopardy. I've talked to shrimpers and fishermen who don't know how they're going to support their families this year. I've seen empty docks and restaurants with fewer customers -- even in areas where the beaches are not yet affected. I've talked to owners of shops and hotels who wonder when the tourists might start coming back. The sadness and the anger they feel is not just about the money they've lost. It's about a wrenching anxiety that their way of life may be lost.”

This I like, because maybe – just maybe – people will begin to realize that our environment and our economy are indivisibly linked. I feel like there’s a common want to separate the two: The fish were here when I started, they’ll always be here. They’re a given and I don’t need to worry about them. Since the fish will always be here, my fish shop will always be successful. Since the fish were “always” there, and “always” will be (obviously a wishful assumption), there was no need to worry about environmental impacts before. The fish aren’t going anywhere – they’ve always been here! Meanwhile, rising water temperatures, pollution, climate change are all affecting the fish. Now a big huge thing like the oil spill happens…well now there’s a problem! BP ruined my environment, my fish! How can I be successful if my environment is degraded? They ruined my fish shop! In part, this is true. BP did mess up. But I think something like this forces people to realize that our economy is truly based on our natural resources, and without those we’re in trouble. Maybe after we suffer the losses that this spill will undeniably bring, better management and a more dedicated eye can be kept on our environmental wealth.

“The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that's already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats. And the region still hasn't recovered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That's why we must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment. I make that commitment tonight. Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, who is also a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible. The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists and other Gulf residents. And BP will pay for the impact this spill has had on the region.”

How much you wanna bet it’s for like five years? But I’m glad they’re thinking about the long-term anyhow. I’m hopeful. Apparently BP has agreed to set aside funds to deal with loss claims resulting from the spill. Obama mentioned the funds would have to be managed by an “independent third party.” Not to be cynical, but who’s “independent” anymore? Oil lobbyists are known for infiltrating just about everything.

On the Minerals Management Service:

“Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility -- a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves. At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations. When Ken Salazar became my Secretary of the Interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency. But it's now clear that the problem there ran much deeper.

Obviously, I mean come one. Connections in the oil industry have always been legendary. Everybody knows, and there are road blocks at every corner when it comes to something that goes against an oil company’s practices or profits. I am pretty excited, however, that fellow oil tycoons are beginning to back away from BP in light of this event. Maybe a change will occur.

“But a larger lesson is that no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk. After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20 percent of the world's oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world's oil reserves. And that's part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean -- because we're running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water. For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we've talked and talked about the need to end America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked -- not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.”

This one’s sad but true, and I think we all know it. I’m still skeptical a real move away from fossil fuels will take place. I feel like it’s often said but never done. Maybe it’s my frustration, maybe it’s true. Actually – it is true. Obviously. The average American household has two cars! People nearly crank the heat when it’s 69° and turn up the A/C when it’s 71°! Seriously, though. I think the real change needs to come from the people. Politicians and energy companies need to make it available to us, yes, but it’s our job to switch to cleaner energy. You might have to pay a few more cents to get your electricity powered by wind turbines, but you’re doing the right thing. And the more people who switch, the cheaper it will become over time. The demand needs to be there. The change needs to be pressured from the bottom up – and many of us are doing that. There’s definitely hope.

Going back to the actual oil spill – it will take time. The end is not in sight yet. Hopefully the Obama administration can come through on its promises. I’m crossing my fingers.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Oil Spill Update

I'll get to Obama, not in this post.

It's getting hard to keep up with all the incoming news from different sources, different angles, people with different motivations...It's getting confusing. People are using the spill to push their own agendas and precious data is getting lost in the process. Let's try to figure some of it out.

So, estimates on oil volume spilled/spilling have increased...again. Does anyone see a pattern here? The "new" spill rates are between 40,000 - 50,000 barrels per day, which is what scientists have been suggesting for weeks (hence “new”). Some estimates are even higher. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, widely considered to be a top authority on marine research and education, estimates the flow at 1 - 2.1 million gallons per day.

"But even using other numbers that federal officials and scientists call a more reasonable range would have about 63 million gallons spilling since the rig explosion...By comparison, the Exxon Valdez, the previous worst U.S. oil spill, was just about 11 million gallons. The new figures mean Deepwater Horizon is producing an Exxon Valdez size spill every five to 13 days."

Just in case the cleanup effort didn't have enough setbacks already, the Discoverer Enterprise - the ship currently assigned to capture oil leaking from the well - was struck by lightning yesterday. The ship caught fire and containment efforts were halted, allowing the flow into the Gulf to increase. Discoverer Enterprise has since been able to resume its containment efforts. Worth mentioning, satirical Twitterer BPGlobalPR tweeted: "Lightning struck one of our ships! Come on Planet Earth, what did we ever do to you?!? #bpcares"

Well, I can think of a few things. 1,075 oiled birds have been found, 633 of which were dead. Scientists estimate only 10% of oiled birds are ever found.

""Others sink or they're scavenged," said Rebecca Dunne, of Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research."

As difficult as it is to count frightened oiled birds trying desperately to escape, counting other animals such as turtles and dolphins is nearly impossible. These animals live much farther away from responders and will rarely wash up on shore. Because of this, we will never truly know the full impact of the spill. Other unseen victims are the sedentary life forms at the bottom of the gulf, such as corals and oysters, which cannot move out of the contaminated area and will most likely be smothered by sinking oil or poisoned by dispersants. A website has been set up here keeping tally of the avian, reptilian and mammalian victims of the spill. You can follow these numbers on Twitter at bpdeadbirds.

photo credit France24

What I'm kind of loving is that BP isn't getting any support from fellow oil whores. Sure, it's easy enough to push the bad publicity towards someone else when it makes you look better (I'm looking at you, ExxonMobil), but the fact is that the traditionally strong bonds of support amongst oil companies is beginning to weaken...and that's a good thing. Maybe they're all realizing it could have just as easily been one of them and they're freaking out a little...?

To put it into an insanely immature spoiled brat's perspective:

"“In one sense we feel like kids who have had their recess taken away because of what somebody else did,” Larry Dickerson, CEO of Diamond Offshore Drilling, told CNBC. “This blanket punishment doesn't seem right.”"

Wahh. Cry me a fucking river.

Full articles here:
New Oil Numbers may mean More Environmental Damage (Las Vegas Sun)
Gulf Oil Spill: Lightning-Ignited Fire Halts Oil Collection System (LA Times)
Most Oil-Struck Birds, Marine Life Die Uncounted (France24)
BP Faces Backlash from Big Oil Rivals (MSNBC)

Maldives Suffering Worst Coral Bleaching since 1998 - Minivan News

When you're looking at a coral, you're really looking at two different things, together. There are the polyps, which are animals - the actual living body of coral that secretes the hard structures we recognize - and there are the zooxanthellae, which are plants (algae) that live within these structures and provide food to the polyps via photosynthesis. The zooxanthellae are what give the corals their brilliant colors. Coral bleaching occurs when conditions are poor and the polyp can no longer support the zooxanthellae, or vice versa. The colored zooxanthellae leave the hard structures of the polyps, and the coral turns white.

photo credit Minivan News via MRC

This is always a bad sign. The polyps and the zooxanthellae live in a mutually beneficial relationship, and (most times) the corals cannot survive without them. There are different levels of bleaching, but when an entire coral structure goes white, there is no chance of re-growth, and the reef begins to die. We all know coral reefs are hugely important ecosystems, so when the corals start to die, the damage ripples throughout the entire system.

Corals are sensitive to temperature change, and the recent high temperatures in the Maldives have been having an adverse effect.

"Hussein Zahir from the Marine Research Centre (MRC) has been collecting reports of the bleaching, and said that based on his estimates, “10-15 percent of shallow reef coral is now completely white, while 50-70 percent has begun to pale…Coral reefs may be the first ecosystem we’ll lose on our planet."

Full article here (Minivan News)

BP Oil Spill: The Growing Onslaught of Public Anger - The Guardian

photo credit The Guardian via Saul Loeb, AFP, Getty Images

New photos, but this time from a new angle: These are of the families and activists protesting BP's big mess. I love seeing people doing something about it!

Full article here (The Guardian)

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

I Got Arrested for Spilling Oil on Myself Today in Protest of BP - AlterNet

"Over the decades I have seen the oil and chemical companies destroying our air, water, our wildlife–and the government going along with it. Politicians like Murkowski take campaign money from big oil and then get in bed with the same oil companies. This must stop. Our livelihoods, the health of our coasts and our childrens’ futures are at stake. Enough is enough. Imagine that. BP can get away with pouring millions of gallons of oil in our seas...and I get arrested for dumping oil on myself in protest."

-Diane Wilson

Spill the truth, honey.

Full article here (AlterNet)

Palau Ends Support for Japan’s Scientific Whaling - Times Live

The South Pacific island nation of Palau has ended its support of Japanese "scientific" whaling (yay!) in favor if the catch quota proposal currently being considered by the IWC (boo!).

Well, I guess it's a step in the right direction. Japan's "scientific" whaling - which actually does supply commercial markets - would be ended and quotas would be put in place, which could potentially halve the amount of whales they are killing. Should everything go according to plan (it never does...), this actually might be a good thing. The best thing? Definitely not. I still don't see the point in legalizing the illegal to make it go away. Honestly, why can't more nations just hop on board with Australia and New Zealand, who have "called the proposed whale cull quota system unacceptable and demanded an end to Japan’s hunt in Antarctic waters?"

Anyway, when asked about Japan/Palau relationships, Palau's president Johnson Toribiong told the Associated Press "I assume Japan is a mature, responsible country and has the capacity to accept our position in light of the world’s view on whaling."

Good for you.

There was one thing that particularly irked me in this article:

"Last week, a Japanese whaling expert visited Palau to seek its continued support at the whaling commission meeting in Morocco. The envoy, Kenro Iino, told Palauan officials current levels of hunting would not deplete any whale species. He also said whales consume much more fish than humans do, so an overabundance of whales could threaten global fish stocks."


This is just simply not true. The targeted species for whaling don't even eat fish, they eat krill and other plankton. According to studies, human overfishing and other fish consume the greatest numbers of fish stocks.

People will say anything for a dollar, sheesh.

Full article here (Times Live)

New England Lobstermen May Face 5-Year Ban - CBS News

Lobstering in southern New England might be looking at a 5-year ban, in order to allow the low stocks to recover.

The fishery has been especially poor the past 10 or so years (and I should know; I worked on a lobster-boat-turned-educational-vessel). Pressures such as overfishing, pesticide runoff (lobsters are essentially sea-bugs, making pesticides extra harmful) and rising water temperatures are all possible causes, and honestly it's probably a mix of those three and more.

There are already reasonable regulations on lobster fishing, such as a minimum keep size and traps that allow young ones to escape. Where I was working, I'm pretty sure we had to throw back all the females. There was also a re-introduction program in my hometown where baby lobsters were raised safely until a certain age and then released. You could tell which were from the program, because their tails would be notched and lobstermen were supposed to throw back any with the mark, which signified it was still too young to collect (the notch grew out after several molts, after which it would be old enough for collection).

photo credit CBS News via AP/Pat Wallenbach

Lobstermen are arguing the 5-year ban would be a death-sentence to the already weak fishery, saying infrastructure and markets would collapse. Maybe that's a good thing. As far as I can remember back, people in southern New England have always been worried about our lobsters going away. They fight over territory and steal each other’s catches. And it's hardly even for anything - most of the areas lobsters are caught in Maine.

American Lobster Management Board member Dennis Abbott said it pretty simply:

"It becomes a dilemma of trying to protect the lobstermen in their occupations versus protecting the resource and ensuring there is a resource."

Full article here (CBS News)

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Oil to be Carried into the Atlantic?

We've been hearing about the possibilities, but how likely is it? If the oil continues to gush and spread - likely enough.

Here's a computer model using data from existing oceanic currents illustrating how the spill might possibly play out.

And here's what's actually happening.

Bad news. Bad, bad news.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

The View From Britain: 'It's Not Us, It's You' - The Huffington Post

I'm gonna tell you a little secret. I'm an American living in Britain. All of my friends and family are back home, and I talk to them often. Because of this, I get two reporting sides to every news story, which is great because often I find that the States will censor certain highlights in the news. But this isn't what's going on with the whole BP incident. News in the States seems to have been centered around the event since it happened, with few diversions on to, in my opinion, less important topics. British news hardly mentions it. I find this kind of shocking, since BP is a British company. Now, granted, I don't have a TV or radio to get the "top news" that's typically fed to the masses in that manner, but I do spend a lot of time on the internet, specifically Google News (which has its own problems), and I follow several marine environmental accounts and blogs on Twitter, which in turn follow more marine environmental accounts and blogs, so I think I probably see a fair share of the news regardless. I make a conscious effort to read marine environmental news every day, and although sometimes I may be a bit late to the party, I'm fairly confident I'm getting more than your average news-reader.

Anyway. What I'd like to point out is that the Deepwater Horizon disaster has been extremely downplayed over here. I haven't once heard people talking about it on the streets, in stores, in public places. I haven't seen it in headlines on the newsstands. I don't see it in the passing glimpses of television screens I get while walking by buildings. The tube is still speckled with BP adverts: sponsored concerts, art exhibits...No one has smeared the BP logo or posted stickers objecting. Honestly, people don't seem to care. People don't seem to think it's a big deal, even though the spill is now greater than the south of England.

Here's the kicker. Britain's looking at our anger at BP as "anti-British" hysteria "permeating from America". An overreaction to a "very, very modest" leak, as Tony Hayward said himself.

Check this out:

"Over the last few years US citizens who criticised the Iraq war or America's response to the climate crisis have consistently come under fire for being "anti-American". The British press have now wised up to the tactic, and are tapping into exactly the same pseudo patriotism to accuse vast swathes of Americans, including President Obama, of being "anti-British.""

Well aren't you clever? I hate how nowadays, whenever someone says something that somebody doesn't like, it's intrinsically anti-whatever and threatens the very moral fiber of a collective groups beliefs. You don't like the war (killing thousands of people)? You're anti-American. You don't like the oil spill (killing thousands of marine animals, ruining livelihoods)? You're anti-British. You don't like giraffes (they have spots!)? You must be anti-African. It makes about the same amount of sense to me.

I love cats, but I don't like cat hair on my clothes, so I must be anti-mammals, right?

Wrap it up with this:

"Never mind that BP's contingency plan for the event of an oil spill was riddled with falsehoods and errors. Never mind the fact that that BP has reported more accidents and blowouts than any other oil company operating in Gulf waters, with one classified report showing how the company "neglected key equipment needed for an emergency shutdown, including safety shutoff valves and gas and fire detectors similar to those that could have helped prevent the fire and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig." Never mind the evidence which reveals BP's record of serial criminal safety violations in America with OSHA statistics showing the company ran up 760 "egregious, willful" safety violations. In spite of all of this, the message from the British right is 'For goodness sake, pull yourselves together.'"

Full article here (The Huffington Post)

Dolphins Use Diplomacy in Their Communication, Biologists Find - Science Daily

A European study has been focusing on burst-pulse sounds made by bottlenose dolphins, rather than the familiar whistles that have previously been thought of as the dolphins' main form of communication.

photo credit Science Daily via iStockphoto, Stephan Zabel

"Burst-pulsed sounds are used in the life of bottlenose dolphins to socialise and maintain their position in the social hierarchy in order to prevent physical conflict, and this also represents a significant energy saving," says Bruno Díaz of BDRI (Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute), the lead author of the study.

"According to the experts, the tonal whistle sounds (the most melodious ones) allow dolphins to stay in contact with each other (above all mothers and offspring), and to coordinate hunting strategies. The burst-pulsed sounds (which are more complex and varied than the whistles) are used "to avoid physical aggression in situations of high excitement, such as when they are competing for the same piece of food, for example," explains Díaz."

Very interesting. Just shows how much we don't know about forms of communication other than our own.

Full article here (Science Daily)

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Whale Shark Sightings Baffle Scientists - AJC

Oh man. Oh man.

photo credit AJC, Lilia Gonzàlez, Kanché AC
The white ovals are boats. See all those gray specs? Those are all whale sharks!

Oh man.

If there's anywhere in the world I want to be right now, it's in the northern Gulf of Mexico off of the Yucatan Peninsula. Outrageous numbers of whale sharks have been sighted there, and scientists don't know why.

"“The sheer number of anecdotal reports from the public is amazing,” said Sarasota-based shark scientist Bob Hueter. “There’s obviously something going on.”

The sharks usually gather in this area during the summer months to feed in the productive waters, but the numbers spotted this year are "unprecedented." There was a change in course in the "loop current" in the Gulf this year, which may have moved the animals further north than usual, resulting in huge aggregations.

Someone please buy me a flight there?

Full article here (AJC)

BP Spills Coffee - BuzzFeed

I have to share this or I will die.

Video (BuzzFeed)

Dos and Don'ts of Oil Spill Action: How You can Really Help - MNN

"The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is a disaster that cries for action. Fight the urge to race to the Gulf and instead put your energy into these activities."

I am going to disagree with one thing in this article, as many of the commenters have already. I DO think we should boycott BP GAS. As one commenter mentioned, gas station owners make considerably more profit for themselves through the items in their shops, which are usually owned by a separate corporation than the gas provider. Profits from buying gas largely end up going back to the oil companies. So, by all means please go in and buy your Coke Zeros and your Pringles from the shops at BP gas stations, and help out the employees there. After all, this isn't their fault. But DO boycott the GAS FOR YOUR CARS.

Full article here (MNN)

BP Oil Spill: Shocking BP Memo says Safety Too Expensive - The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast has obtained an internal BP document showing that before BP's last fatal accident in 2005, safety measures were ignored in favor of saving money. The company estimated the value of employees’ lives at $10 million each. The company disgustingly demonstrates this using a "Three Little Piggie" metaphor:

image credit The Daily Beast
A document showing the "optimal" (hand-written note & arrow) selection of a solid-structured work environment (example: bricks; use in reality: trailers), but not a "blast-resistant" structure, which would have saved lives in the 2005 BP Texas City Refinery explosion.

"At Texas City, all of the fatalities and many of the serious injuries occurred in or around the nine contractor trailers near the isom unit, which contained large quantities of flammable hydrocarbons and had a history of releases, fires, and other safety incidents. A number of trailers as far away as two football fields were heavily damaged."

"Last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied the largest monetary penalty in its history, $87 million, for "failing to correct safety problems identified after a 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers at its Texas City, Texas refinery."

Hmm...makes you think. If BP hasn't made the necessary changes after five years, could there be parallels to the Gulf case?

Full article here (The Daily Beast)

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Looking for Gulf Oil Spill News? Be Careful What You Google - Planet Green

More on this.

Apparently now BP has bought certain search terms as well as the sponsored links at the tops of Google search engine pages. I'm assuming this goes for Yahoo! as well.

"ABC News quotes a BP spokesman making it sound like a kind-hearted effort: "We have bought search terms on search engines like Google to make it easier for people to find out more about our efforts in the Gulf and make it easier for people to find key links to information on filing claims, reporting oil on the beach and signing up to volunteer.""

How do I type that bullshit/cough thing? You bought the search terms to try to skew people's information to your side. There have already been several issues about BP's credibility in all this, why shouldn't we be suspicious now? It seems pretty straightforward to me...

Full article here (Planet Green)

BP Buys Top Google Result for “Oil Spill” - Mashable

"BP’s PR problems are severe. U.S. President Barack Obama said this morning that he’s talking to experts so he can determine “whose ass to kick.”"

HA! That actually made me laugh. Sometimes he's a wimp, but other times I love that guy...

So, BP has bought the sponsored links at the tops of both Google and Yahoo! search engines. This is in hopes of improving the company's image and trying to get their information to readers first.

Are we falling for it? I'm sure not.

Full article here (Mashable)

Another Orca Dies At SeaWorld Orlando; IDA Calls for End to Public Display of Captive Orcas - IDA

A sad story. Taima of SeaWorld Orlando, a 20-year-old female orca (killer whale), has died while delivering her stillborn calf. The father was the infamous Tilikum, who brought negative media coverage to SeaWorld earlier this year when he killed his trainer.

"“Public display of orcas only serves SeaWorld’s corporate need to profit from dangerous and unnatural stunts. It provides no meaningful education about protecting orcas in the wild and their natural habitats,” said IDA [In Defense of Animals] President Scotlund Haisley."

Orcas in captivity live short lives, an average of 15 - 20 years, while their relatives in the wild average 80 - 90 years. While it is natural for pods of orcas to swim great distances together in the wild, conditions in captivity only allow for extremely limited movement. "They use echolocation (sonar) to hunt, communicate and navigate through the ocean. In captivity their sound waves bounce off the walls of their tanks, which must be psychological torture to them."

NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) is reviewing changes to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) regarding changes to the public display of orcas and other marine mammals.

Full article here (IDA)

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Rig Survivors: BP Ordered Shortcut on day of Blast - CNN

Anderson Cooper speaks to survivors from the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20.

Basically it looks like there was a disagreement about a BP representative suggesting Transocean employees replace the heavy drilling mud with lightweight saltwater, which is unable to sustain the same amounts of pressure. Upon the resistance of Transocean employees...:

"He basically said, 'Well, this is how it's gonna be.' "

Full article here (CNN)

Gulf Oil Spill Pictures: Birds, Fish, Crabs Coated - National Geographic

Newest photos of the victims of the oil spill.

My friend was looking over my shoulder as I looked at these.
"Don't look at those, they're sad," he said.
But people need to look at these. This is what's really happening - right now. People need to face this and be aware of the realities. A lot of times, when something is sad, or hard to cope with emotionally, people try to avoid it. But nothing gets done that way. The problem doesn't disappear if you avoid it.

So please check out these photos, and pass them along to others. Everyone needs to see this.

The little hermit crabs break my heart.

photo credit National Geographic, Charlie Riedel, AP

Full article here (National Geographic)

Questions about the Gulf Oil Leak - MNN

Links! Links galore!

As Mr. Gunther says, I've also been "a little overwhelmed at all the news coming out of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico." I think we all have. (I've had an especially hard time keeping up with it, since I have no TV/radio for news!)

A lot of good questions are raised here.

Full article here (MNN)

Monday, 7 June 2010

US Adm Thad Allen says Oil Clean-Up 'Will be Years' - BBC

I'm glad there's a cap on it, but the problem's not solved. The Deepwater Horizon well is still leaking 12,000 - 24,000 barrels of oil per day, and only 11,000 barrels per day are being captured and funneled off by BP.

"Hundreds of thousands" of individual oil patches are currently spread throughout the Gulf's surface. Smaller-scale vessels are trying to remove these via skimmers. Adm. Thad Allen said it would take "a couple of months" to clear all the oil from the surface, but "long-term issues of restoring environments and habitats will be years."

"Mr Obama told reporters after the briefing that he was committed to seeing the Gulf region restored to a condition better than it was before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank on 20 April, killing 11 workers."

Honestly, I liked Obama for a while, but this seems to me like a naïve statement. It's like he thinks he's going to get bonus points for saying he wants to make it even better than it was. I hear kids say this type of thing a lot. Do I want to believe it? Of course. Do I actually believe it is even possible? No. Let's not forget, Alaska is still hurting from Exxon Valdez more than 20 years later.

Full article here (BBC)

Dolphin uses iPad as way to Communicate with Humans -

photo credit

We've seen cats and dogs with them, but now you can add a dolphin to your list of animals that use the iPad. Merlin the bottlenose dolphin lives in Mexico at Dolphin Discovery's swim-with-dolphins facility. Jack Kassewitz of is working on a language interface to help humans and dolphins communicate better.

"For now, the researchers are getting Merlin used to the touch screen by showing him real objects, such as a ball, cube or plastic duck, then asking the dolphin to touch photos of those same objects on the screen. “This is an easy task for a dolphin, but it is a necessary building block towards our goal of a complete language interface between humans and dolphins”, Kassewitz said."

Full article here (

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Why Don't They Get It? - It's Getting Hot in Here

Please check out this post on blog "It's Getting Hot in Here; Dispatches from the Youth Climate Movement," regarding America's wasted time responding to the Gulf Oil Disaster:

Why Don't They Get It?

Excellent question...

BP Increases Oil-Capture Rate; U.S. Braces for Siege - Business Week

"A “cap” over the well is capturing “probably the vast majority” of the leaking oil, Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward told the Broadcasting Corp. today in an interview in London."

I don't know what to believe, but I hope it really is capturing the "vast majority."

"“In the long term, the threat from this well will not go away until the relief well has been drilled, pressure has been taken off and the well has been plugged,” Allen said. “In the meantime, we need to optimize our containment efforts.”

So it seems the "top cap" has worked, kinda. I guess. If you call that working. Oil is still leaking from the well, and the sheen is moving onshore across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Obama's moratorium on offshore drilling is still meeting resistance from selfish idiots. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour actually endorsed the resume of drilling in the Gulf today. WTF is wrong with these people...

Full article here (Business Week)
On a lighter note, check out this comic my friend pointed out to me.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Manta Rays Next on Restaurant Menus as Shark Populations Plummet - Times Online

Is there something hard about this? I dunno...If you eat up all the first species, you should move on to another...? What?

photo credit Times Online

Rays would be an easy target for fisherman, as they swim slowly close to the surface and are easily visible. They seem to be quite inquisitive as well, which could potentially be a downfall.

"So far, they have escaped commercial exploitation and have been hunted only by small numbers of subsistence fishermen, who traditionally catch them using harpoons. But the growing demand for the manta ray (Manta birostris) and its close cousin the devil ray (of the Mobula genus) is turning ray fishing into an export operation. In the eastern Indonesian port of Lamakera, catches of manta have rocketed from a few hundred to about 1,500 a year."

The fins are apparently being used in low-grade shark fin soup as a filler. The gills are also being used in traditional Chinese medicines. (An aside; Pardon me if I'm wrong, and no disrespect whatsoever to anyone of Chinese or Asian descent...but WHY do all these traditional medicines come from ENDANGERED OR VULNERABLE SPECIES?!)

"Eli Michael, of the Manta Pacific Research Foundation, said Hawaii is poised to outlaw catching or killing mantas. Until now, getting caught in nets intended for other fish has been the biggest threat to rays, listed as “near threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List."

Hawaii is just awesome right now, leading the way for threatened marine species’ protection from fishing. I'm seriously loving me some Hawaii right now. I hope other states/nations catch on!

On the other hand, Britain is sucking:

"The market for shark fin soup is growing at about 5 per cent a year, while shark populations are crashing: 80 per cent of Atlantic sharks have been lost in the past 15 years, according to the trust. Britain is one of only five EU member states that still allows the removal of shark fins at sea. More than 80 tonnes of fins are landed in Britain every year."

Shame on you, Britain. Enough with the fish and chips, okay? Take it down a notch. Or at least choose a sustainable species!!

Full article here (Times Online)

'Top cap' on BP Oil Spill not Tight Enough as Crude Keeps Spewing - The Christian Science Monitor

Well, gosh. BP failed again.

With "top kill" failed and out of the picture, BP is trying something called "top cap." Basically they had to make a clean cut across the crumpled pipe in order to fit a "cap" securely over the leak. Unfortunately, the saw jammed during the cut, leaving the edges jagged. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said this could leave the "top cap" less effective because the seal may not fit over the pipe smoothly.

BP is still working on drilling relief wells, which should be completed sometime between August and December, but until then it looks like the oil will continue to flow.

"More than 100 miles of marshland and beaches are already tarred, and a fishing area the size of Florida is closed in the Gulf...The total amount of oil that has spewed from the well is now into the tens of millions of gallons, perhaps twice the amount that leaked when the Exxon Valdez hit ground in Prince William Sound in 1989. It's by most accounts the worst environmental disaster in US history."

Full article here (The Christian Science Monitor)

Visualizing the BP Oil Spill Disaster -

My friend pointed this out to me.

Go to, type in your location and see how much area the oil spill would cover if it was in your hometown.

Some examples:


Paris, France

London, UK

image sources

Caught in the Oil - The Big Picture (

Truly heartbreaking.

Seabirds caught in the oil slick on Louisiana's East Grand Terre Island.

photo credit The Big Picture via Charlie Riedel

No words.

Full article here (The Big Picture)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

BP vs. Twitter

Follow BPGlobalPR on Twitter!!

Dear BP: We Do Not Live in the Gulf of Mexico. Sincerely, Walruses; The 7 Dumbest Things in BP’s Spill Response Plan - Grist

"Oil companies are supposed to have spill-response plans prepared before they begin drilling in American offshore waters. Minerals Management Service safety regulators are supposed to scrutinize those plans before signing off on them. But it's looking more and more like no one bothered to read BP's backup plan before the Deepwater Horizon rig began drilling 5,000 feet below the ocean's surface."

Full article here (Grist)

Social Networking Helps Hermit Crabs Find Homes - redOrbit

Just about everyone I know has had a pet hermit crab at some point when they were a kid, so most of us probably know about how they grow larger and need to switch into bigger and bigger shells. What we hadn't known until now, is that they actually will use social networking skills to locate new shells.

"When a new shell becomes available, crabs gather around it and queue up in a line from largest to smallest. Once the largest crab moves into the vacant shell, each crab in the queue swiftly switches into the newly vacated shell right in front of them. As a result, a single vacant shell kicks off an entire chain of shell vacancies that ultimately leads to many crabs getting new, and generally improved, housing."

When a crab finds a new, but oversized, shell, it will wait nearby instead of scurrying away. As more and more crabs gather around the new shell, they get to check out the real estate that will potentially become available. When one crab decides to go for it and switch, it sets off a "synchronous vacancy chain."

Full article here (redOrbit)
See it happen here! (video)

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

World's Largest Container Shipping Company Refuses To Ship At-Risk Marine Life; 'The Net Is Closing On Destructive Fisheries' - Underwater Times

Danish container shipping company Maersk has refused to transport at-risk marine species, including orange roughy, Patagonian toothfish (Chilean sea bass) and any species of shark or whale. This is significant news, considering Maersk is the largest container ship operator in the world.

If you go and check Maersk's website, you'll see that they've also added two new "ECO-tugs" to their fleet, and have set a CO2 reduction goal of 1% each year from 2008 - 2012. The "ECO-tug" design fits into their plans, which should add up to a 10% reduction in fuel emissions.

I'm still not the biggest fan of container ships, but this is a step in the right direction.

Full article here (Underwater Times)