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Sea Shepherd Crew Blog

Welcome to the Operation Gulf Rescue crew blog. Please check back often for blogs written by members of the Sea Shepherd crew.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Helping the Bird Rescue Efforts

Gulf of Mexico, June 21st

by Bonny Schumaker

I Ieft rather spur of the moment Saturday morning for the Gulf,  Kurt called and had news from some photographers that wanted to have me fly them around here, and that plus their contacts here and the weather outlook for later this week were enough to tip the decision to "Go NOW." 

It's being hugely productive so far.   Arrived midday yesterday and we spent yesterday with the oiled bird guys down in Fort Jackson.  What a great thing that was, because they're good friends with the ED and second in command of IBRRC, so we got the full tour for several hours. We got to see everything, not like the one-hour press gathering they allow for one hour at a time three times per week.  The meetings were great, really got to the core of things.  Clarified for me what the challenges are here for helping.

We're up early today, heading to the airport to fly.  I'm scheduled to fly Jay Holkum, head of IBRRC and the Gulf ops, this evening.  These guys haven't been up in the air yet, their heads are down full time treating the birds.  We learned last night that about 500 baby pelicans are arriving at the treatment center in Fort Jackson this morning.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Toxic Tragedy Spreads

Gulf of Mexico, June 2nd

by Bonny Schumaker

We watch the tragic toxic mass continue to grow, but scientists estimate that we are seeing only 2-5% of the oil. The rest remains below the surface and the damage will remain long beyond any eventual surface cleanup.

Probably what got us the most was the recognition of the thousands of breeding pairs of pelicans, egrets, and more on the Chandeleur Islands, now with hatchlings. They hunt/fish together along the lines between the oil slicks and less oily water. Having seen some of those oiled fish wash up on shore, filled to the gills with oil and sludge, it becomes clear that the most tragic impending doom is not just a few oiled feathers -- it is the certain permanent and lethal damage to the entire populations from eating oiled and contaminated fish.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Witnessing Mother Earth bleeding

Gulf of Mexico, June 1st

by Kurt Lieber
Sea Shepherd Board Member

Bonny and KurtAfter 2 days of flying from Los Angeles to New Orleans, Bonny Schumaker and I took our first flight over the bayou of Louisiana.  This is where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico.  Bonny and I flew in her Cessna 180 so we could observe first hand, the true impact the oil disaster has been inflicting on the waters of the Gulf by British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizontal oil rig that caught fire and then sank on Earth Day, April 22nd.

We were instructed by the aviation control tower to not fly beneath 3,000 feet.  This made it difficult to see any birds or wildlife in any detail.  But as we flew over Grand Isle we saw a very disturbing sight.  There was a red splotch on the water that stretched for 2-3 miles.  As we got closer you could tell that it was oil.  This was not a sheen, but rather a lot like paint when it has been spilt on the floor.  It had thickness to it, and was changing shape with every wave and current that swept through it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Assessing the Damage

Gulf of Mexico, May 23rd - June 1st

by Bonnie Schumaker

Bonny over LouisianaWe arrived in New Orleans on Sunday May 23, and immediately began a series of aerial surveillance flights covering most of the shore areas as well as the Chandeleur Islands. Despite the FAA-mandated Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) which restrict flight to higher than 3000' agl (above ground level), by flying slowly with open window and long lenses, we obtained some good high-resolution footage of sensitive areas, and learned much about the numbers and conditions of wildlife in otherwise unreachable areas such as the Chandeleur Islands, Grand Isle, Barataria Bay, Venice, and the southern shores. 

The photos and videos speak for themselves.  You'll see the sheen of oil and dispersant extending for miles in places and having found its way into the estuaries.  You'll see absorbent booms spread along shore areas and around the islands, and you'll see photos taken along Elmers Island and other shore areas showing boom that is full of oil and wrapped in bags to be removed.  We took photos of some fish washed up along shore, such as a large bull red fish who had oil seeping out of his mouth and eyes; his gills were filled with the sludge. Where there are no boats or rigs in photos to give you the scale, note that the sediment-filled water usually extends about 100 m from the shoreline.  The oil/dispersant line is only about 300 m from the shoreline in many places, and the lines extend for miles.


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