The problem: On the morning of April 20, 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, the British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon semi-submersible mobile offshore drilling unit exploded, killing 11 people.
On the afternoon of April 22, a large oil slick began to spread from the former rig site, and today this disaster is the largest offshore spill in U.S. history. Estimates vary as to how much oil is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, but experts agree that it is between 50,000 and 150,000 barrels of oil per day.
On May 19, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and elsewhere stated that oil had reached the Loop Current. By June 4, the oil spill had landed on 125 miles of Louisiana's coast, washed up along Mississippi and Alabama barrier islands, and was found for the first time on a Florida barrier island at Pensacola Beach. The greatest concern has been that severe weather, as we enter hurricane season, might push the oil inland and over a far wider area, simultaneously rendering many clean-up and wildlife rescue operations useless or redundant.
On June 30th, as Sea Shepherd Gulf Operations Liaison Dr. Bonny Schumaker and Sea Shepherd CEO Steve Roest attended a New Orleans Gulf oil spill coalition meeting. Extensive discussion was given to strategies for coordinating and implementing public sector support for the oil cleanup, for protection and rescue of the Gulf wildlife, and for recovery of the local economy.
The questions: Have the US government and BP implemented the best strategies for oil clean-up and animal rescue? Why is a solution taking so long? What can be done to save marine life over the long term? Who should be involved? These are the questions everyone is asking, and while debate rages, Sea Shepherd is preparing for multiple operations to help in the rescue of animals.
Some answers: Sea Shepherd has already begun training volunteers and crew for hazmat/hazwoper (hazardous materials safety compliance) operations, and is preparing them for conditions in the Gulf. Sea Shepherd has been conducting reconnaissance surveys by air and sea across the affected areas for weeks, and trained volunteers will soon be in the area to carefully study and report on wildlife and ecosystems in the most contaminated areas.
Sea Shepherd is also currently preparing a large vessel in Europe to serve as a floating support facility for authorized, qualified experts working to rescue and protect wildlife and habitat in the Gulf. Veterinarians, scientists, researchers, and highly qualified oiled wildlife rescue experts will join our ship in the Gulf, and Sea Shepherd will also have qualified personnel available to assist with construction, transportation, and other needs. The Sea Shepherd floating Wildlife Care Center will be available to assist all authorized operations.
We need the help of Sea Shepherd's amazing supporters once again. We need you to urge the U.S. government to use everything at its disposal to help clean up the Gulf and to rescue the animals. Sea Shepherd needs funds for Operation Gulf Rescue. We will be in the Gulf for as long as we are able, and we need help with equipping and fueling our ship, training our volunteer crews, making regular surveys of the affected areas by air, sea, and land, and we need to keep appropriate pressure on BP and all authorized agencies to accept our and other help from the public sector. We can't do any of this without your continued help.
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