Arctic Sunrise Gulf Oil Spill Expedition

My time on board the Arctic Sunrise is almost up, so I wanted to share a few final thoughts about my time on board. I am an oceans campaigner, but this was my first time working on board one of our ships; it has been such a great and productive trip, that I’m already eager for the next time I get the opportunity to back out to sea on a Greenpeace ship.

The crew of the Arctic Sunrise is not only hard working and very professional, but they embody the Greenpeace core values of bearing witness and taking action. I’ve learned something that I’ve heard from many folks: that the Gulf of Mexico is a very special patch of ocean. The diversity of sea life I observed during the past couple of weeks was fantastic, including whales, dolphins and fish, birds and sargasum. These will be cherished memories of the Gulf’s real treasures — why we continue to put all of this at risk from oil extraction can only be seen as a crime against nature.

From the time we departed Gulf Port, Mississippi last Thursday until our arrival in Galveston, Texas, we have covered several hundred miles, but were never out of sight of oil platforms. To think that in only a few decades we have covered the northern Gulf with thousands of wells (27,000 of them already abandoned), and then actually seeing the richness of the wildlife here, it is heartbreaking knowing it is only a matter of time until there’s another oil-driven catastrophe. It is long past time for us to get off oil, and move on to truly sustainable renewable energy sources.

I have heard that there is little support in Washington to extend the temporary offshore drilling moratorium beyond its expiration this November. It’s almost as if the Gulf oil spill tragedy never happened. However, after I first drafted this blog, there has been good news. Yesterday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered that fossil fuel companies must plug almost 3,500 defunct wells and dismantle 650 unused oil platforms.

We need to keep learning the lessons of this oil spill, and use it as a springboard to jump us forward towards a future where both ocean wildlife and our energy needs can coexist, without putting our oceans at risk.

Tankers off Galveston

The Gulf of Mexico, with its flying fish, whales, birds, and its entire ocean web of life, is truly a special part of our world’s oceans and needs our help.

Join us in calling for a clean energy future.

- Phil


All photographs © 2010 Greenpeace/Mannie Garcia