Photo of the Month – July 2012

August 8, 2012

The July Photo of the Month is a powerful image of a Steller sea lion, its head raised high in the air against a beautiful panorama of the Alaskan Arctic. [caption id="attachment_9269" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Sea lion, Dutch Harbor, Alaska"]Dutch Harbor, Alaska[/caption]

I like the subtle reflection of the giant animal in the glossy mud of the foreshore. He seems rooted in the dark band of earth setting off the lighter upper fur. His posture embodies the rugged angles of the snowy peaks beyond. Jiri Rezac captured the stunning beauty of of the northernmost United States in a voyage aboard the Greenpeace ship Esperanza that surveyed the previously unstudied ecology of the Bering Sea Canyons, and the Chukchi Sea. Using a deep sea submersible, marine biologists explored unknown areas under threat by a rush to industrialize the last wilderness now made accessible by the alarming disappearance of sea ice as climate change transforms the earth.

As this photo was being taken on American Independence Day, Shell Oil drilling vessels were heading for Dutch Harbor. Less than 10 days later, the 'Noble Discoverer' dragged its anchor in a '"stiff breeze" and came very close to these shores. The incident raises serious concerns about the company's ability to safely drill in the fragile Arctic environment. In the Chukchi Sea, close to the area where Shell plans to drill, scientists on board the Esperanza discovered bountiful life on the Arctic Ocean floor including corals not mentioned in Shell's Environmental Impact Statement. Documented by high definition cameras on the submersible, Greenpeace is trying to find what is there before it is gone.

Now instead of rushing into the Arctic to grab more of the same fossil fuels that have brought us to the brink of disaster, we should be taking stock of the planet, investing all our efforts in renewable energy and protecting all the variety of life on Earth, like this Steller sea lion, instead of the death in a barrel of oil.

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