Mayday for Coastal Wildlife!

Photo by Gerald Herbert, AP.

Right now, while the City of New Orleans is celebrating its beloved Jazz Fest, just 40 miles away the sunken Deepwater Horizon oil rig is spewing 9 gallons of sweet crude oil into the Gulf every minute. That amounts to about 200,000 gallons a day from the British Petroleum rig that lies 5,000 feet under the sea and was professed to be “high unlikely” to fail– almost a year to the day before it did.

The sick slick.

And all that oil is heading in a thick, viscous, tarry rust-brown mess, 130 miles long and 70 miles wide, directly towards the fragile wetlands that protect the southern Louisiana coast.

Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard that has federal oversight over the disaster, calls the situation “catastrophic.” That may prove to be an understatement, because nobody can seem to find a way to stop the oil from gushing out. The remotely controlled blow-out preventers designed to seal off the well apparently didn’t activate.

Oil-covered Northern Gannel by Carlos Barria, Reuters.

And so, we’re looking at the worst environmental disaster on record. Of course, the real victims of this disaster won’t be Halliburton (Dick Cheney’s baby) that finished cementing the walls of the rig 20 hours before it exploded; or BP, whose COO for exploration and production claims, “We’ve basically thrown everything we have at it.”

Louisiana Heron by Mark Ralston, AFP.

Nope, the real victims will be the millions of birds who are just now converging on the Gulf Coast in migration or to nest in the marsh. And the fish. And the oysters, shrimp and crabs that can’t swim away from the suffocating oil. And the 5,000 dolphins along the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts who are just now in their birthing season. And the loggerhead and Kemp’s Ridley turtles that nest at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, also in the line of the slick. And the fishermen whose livelihoods depend on these waters.

Local fishermen by Patrick Semansky, AP.

In fact, the entire complex system of freshwater and saltwater wetlands that protect the coast are in peril. For years, those Delta wetlands have been sinking into the ocean, deprived of sustaining sediment by the Mississippi River levees, poisoned by farm runoff, sliced into channels by oil companies seeking a quick way out to the ocean, and cut to ribbons by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. A thick coating of oil could be the final nail in the coffin, killing the cordgrass that binds the marsh together and destroying the coast’s primary natural barrier to erosion and its vital sanctuary for marine and coastal wildlife.

Birds near the mouth of the Mississippi, by Greenpeace.

On March 31, in a stunning and sickening reversal, President Obama announced that areas off the coast from Delaware to central Florida would be opened for oil and natural gas exploration and possible development. Now he’s saying that any new oil rigs will have “safeguards” to prevent something like this from happening. Kind of like the blow-out preventers, Barack??

Oil meets water.

The fact is, when you drill offshore, disasters are going to happen. And it’s all going to wash up on our shores, until we understand that our need for oil is killing the planet.  My $100 today is going to the non-profit Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Mississippi where scientists, veterinarians and researchers are working frantically to prepare for the arrival of dying sea mammals covered in America’s favorite cocktail.

You can donate by clicking here . You can also volunteer to go help!

7 thoughts on “Mayday for Coastal Wildlife!

  1. This arched eyebrow came from a couple of the people to whom I forwarded your blog, both engineers by training.
    Although the dimensions (even some physical ones) are not clearly measurable in several aspects of this catastrophe, the “…British Petroleum rig that lies 5,000 miles under the sea ” should be ‘ 5,000 feet’.

  2. Betty, thank you for this poignantly-worded article. I can’t say anything intelligent because I’m literally crying over this disaster. I’ve read this post more than once and it’s so hard to absorb… no pun intended.

  3. This is a true disaster and the more people use it for political reasons, the worse the outcome.
    Incidentally, Obama (by no means God of mine) already declared that no new drilling will proceed
    until this misfortune is investigated and the cause is identified.
    Even this half-baked Marxist ignoramus understands that the world needs oil to have life as we know it today and doesn’t jump to quick touchy-feely stupid, dangerous propaganda.
    Betty is awfully quick to point finger at the horrible big companies, not knowing anything about what really happened (nobody knows still, according to all the experts today).
    The telling thing in Betty Londergan’s blog is, that the first victims she lists are the birds and the sea creatures and only at the end, she finally mentions the fishermen’s losses.
    Quote: “Nope, the real victims will be the millions of birds who are just now converging on the Gulf Coast in migration or to nest in the marsh. And the fish. And the oysters, shrimp and crabs that can’t swim away from the suffocating oil. And the 5,000 dolphins along the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts who are just now in their birthing season. And the loggerhead and Kemp’s Ridley turtles that nest atBon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, also in the line of the slick. And the fishermen whose livelihoods depend on these waters.”
    The birds and the fish! How sensitive of her! How Green! How Progressive! God, what an idiot!…
    How about the real trouble – the citizens of 4 states are going to be affected, displaced, devastated, and brutalized by the stench and the mess.
    The real trouble is economic losses that we all, not just BP, will experience as a result of this, and it’s bad enough as it is.
    But Betty cares not about reality.
    She exists in the imaginary world of birds and bees and “no human is illegal!” – a kindergarten mentality, which is killing the Western World together with the rest of the world, which depends on the Western World, with it’s ability to pump the oil up from the abyss and give everybody shelter, food, fuel, medicine, transportation and those cute absorbent panty liners for Mrs. Betty…
    Wouldn’t it be great if energy came in nice smelling packages, easily disposable and quickly degradable? Yeah, sure, but it does not!
    And that my friends is the truth, but the left don’t deal in truth.
    British Petroleum is as guilty as the builders of the airplanes which tend to crash occasionally, killing thousands.
    The same goes for cars, trains, mines and occasional mishaps in every aspect of our lives, where human error and nature’s power are a factor.
    There is also human greed and other unattractive human qualities, so what…
    There’s good and evil in the world, which “progressives” deny, as you well know. The only evil in the world according to them, is Cheney. What a joke!
    Does it mean we should abolish our way to live, to explore, to travel, to build, to dare?
    To a coward, which is today’s Leftist, the answer is yes.
    I should think not.
    Progress has a price. Invention takes courage. (Those oil rigs are mind-boggling engineering wonders).
    And the building companies are obligated by law to contribute big bucks to the protection of the environment.

    But Mrs. Londergan and the like-minded liberals, who have $100 a day to spare on a turtle or a cockroach don’t give a crap about progress or courage.
    No drilling! No dirty nasty industries!
    She will hire an illegal (law breaker in my book) to make her shampoo out of eggs and herbs. Another will fan her gently for hours on a hot day and everyone will be sooo green! Just like all the celebrities in Hollywood…(another lie)
    Her money will buy her the human mules, who will carry her on their shoulders. The rest of you can walk, for all she cares (Paula Abdul embarrassing episode from Sasha Cohen’s “Bruno” where she sits on top of a Mexican man, while eating sushi and talking about how she likes helping all of the world’s unfortunate people).
    The fear of Islam will make Mrs. Londergan push the people of Israel into their graves – a foolish hope to pacify the numerous ugly mob.
    I don’t see in this peace of leftist propaganda anything new or relevant.
    Yes I like the birds and crabs, but when the house is on fire, prudent people think about saving people first.
    Then they proceed to build a new bigger and better house.
    That is the way of a Man!

    • Wow, Leo — you sure know how to extrapolate! Just a few mild corrections: I don’t wear panty liners (but thanks for thinking intimate thoughts of me), I do give a crap about courage but we might not define it the same way, I care very much about the fishermen who will be put out of business, I do believe no human is illegal or disposable, i don’t buy shampoo made from eggs & herbs, and I’m not a celebrity. Have a nice day!

      • Betty, I wish to offer my apology for any rudeness in my remarks to your blog.
        Anger is not a good partner in writing.
        I am as upset as you are about this disaster.
        You are obviously a nice person, trying your best. Good Luck.

  4. Betty,
    Thanks for this clarion call.
    I truly don’t know how or what to deal with first: my rage and frustration at the smug and incalculably stupid political forces that create the conditions for this disaster or my sense of loss and sadness for the surviving helpless creatures with which we cohabit this once beautiful planet. The dimensions of this horrible event, as you so eloquently show, are only beginning to appear and rock our world. What will be the cost of this disaster? A dead-zone extending from the Gulf of Mississippi to Texas, killing and sickening human and animal populations alike for decades to come ? A fallout that suffuses the regional economy like a volcano of oil-sodden smog to further erode efforts at recovery in this brittle, fragile landscape? Can anything at all avert the course that our one-dimensional lust for oil resources has set for our future? How long can we ignore the degradation we inflict on the world we are leaving to our children? Will there ever be the collective will that begins to turn the ship?
    Your work every day is truly inspiring and today seems the only accessible pinpoint of light…

  5. Betty, thank you so much for this very articulate and spot-on piece about the oil platform disaster off Louisiana. I am a fierce opponent of any new offshore drilling, and agree with your points completely. It’s time to invest in massive alternative energy research rather than fall into old patterns by drilling for more oil.

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