Friday, July 30, 2010

My First Glimpse ~ Something's not Right

It all seemed fine – on the surface. The natural beauty of this area is amazing ~ and what is happening to it is an absolute crime. Most areas are not surprisingly deserted for this time of year. The Casino area of Biloxi is like a ghost town. With the temps hovering around 100 degrees, some people have come down to the beaches, and what did surprise me was the number of people in the water. I walked by two teenage girls splashing and laughing. What can you say? I couldn’t smile, so I just looked down and kept walking. It made me sad to think of what might be in their future from the toxic chemicals in their watery playground.

Near deserted beach in Biloxi
Never having been to Mississippi before, I couldn’t tell if the water appeared normal or not – it looked more like Long Island Sound than the blue Atlantic waters off Florida, but perhaps that's normal. And there was no smell. You’d think that anyone with a pulse would still know not to go in, no matter how high the mercury gets.

Heading West on 90, I found my first cleanup workers in Gulfport. As beautiful as this beach was, there wasn’t a soul on it except myself & the cleanup crews. It was just beautiful powdery white sand cut through with ATV tracks.

I had a bit of trepidation as I was checked out by these men supervising the clean up, but they didn't stop me from speaking to their workers. A friendly smile seemed to go a long way and I wasn’t restricted at all. With the decreasing attention being paid to the whole issue of the Deepwater Horizon blowout, and the complete lack of journalists, my guess is that they’re letting their guard down. Not a good idea with folks like me around. Some gray haired ladies are not as harmless as they look.

It’s clear that cleanup operations are scaling back and I believe that it’s a very important time to report from here for that very reason. Things appear to be better, and the Feds and BP want everyone to believe that it is, but you really get the sense that something is not right. It’s too quiet. Parents know that feeling well.

Tonight on CNN, they showed trucks loaded with booms leaving Plaquemine’s Parish and Billy Nungesser and others are reporting that there is still oil coming into the surrounding areas.  Tomorrow I am meeting with NASA pilot Bonny Schumaker who has some very serious questions as to the discrepancies between what she is seeing with her own eyes and what the Feds and BP are claiming to be the truth. It promises to be a very interesting day.
JULY 17, 2010.
Coordinates: 26.07.03N 80.06.21W

My first stop on Mission Blue’s Gulf Expedition was to catch up with Samantha Whitcraft of Oceanic Defense and Mary O’Malley of Shark Savers in Fort Lauderdale. Over the past year, both women have mentored me as I’ve become an ocean activist, making fruitful introductions and offering advice when I’d hit a brick wall. And now, finally we meet! Thanks to Kelly Levendorf of the renowned dive organization, Pro Dive, who welcomed us and provided their facilities to us for the afternoon.

Samantha’s role as Director of Conservation Biology for Oceanic Defense and as Senior Research Associate at the University of Miami’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Science puts her in a unique position to share her insights into the far reaching effects of the Gulf blow-out. In this video, she outlines how each of us can channel our feelings of frustration and helplessness into useful actions to save troubled wildlife in our own communities.

Mary O’Malley is a force to be reckoned with in the field of shark conservation. From working with fishermen on changing shark tournaments to catch and release to pushing for local and international regulations that protect sharks, Mary’s approach to shark conservation is multifaceted. Currently, Mary is working to protect the sharks, mantas and mobula rays of Raja Ampat, Indonesia, our blue planet’s center of biodiversity. Please read about what makes it critically important to protect this very special corner of our ocean world here: and add your name to the petition to save these very endangered species in Raja Ampat.

Samantha will be boarding a research vessel later this month to study larval tuna that have come into contact with oil and dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico. I’ll be meeting her at the ship in Pascagoula, Mississippi and we’ll be road tripping it, ‘Thelma and Louise’ style from there. We’re developing quite an itinerary and are really excited about sharing our Gulf discoveries with you on this blog.

Our afternoon culminated with some very well deserved blue marbles being presented to Samantha, Mary and Kelly in recognition of their love for our planet’s blue heart.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Dr. Chris Pincetich - Marine Toxicologist on Corexit & the Gulf

Palm Beach Dreamin'

First, I'll visit my home reefs off Palm Beach, Florida.  It's where I learned the magic of the underwater world. This video, taken by David Cowan last week shows what you can see in just one day. Hopeful reports of the loop current being 'pinched off' indicate that perhaps the Keys and the Atlantic Coast might be spared - at least for now. Perhaps there will be a miracle.