Creatures small to big

by Dan Howells

August 22, 2010

Greenpeace image Gulf oil platformThe Arctic Sunrise has made it’s way west across the Gulf of Mexico about 100 miles south of the Louisiana coast. We’re making our way to the first of a series of blue clab larvae tows scientists from Tulane will be doing to study the populations. This study was not being conducted as part of the oil spill as they took their first samples pre-spill but now they should be able to see the effects of the spill on different populations. On the way, we’ve been looking for slightly larger creatures, whales. With hydrophones and several sets of eyes we’ve been trying to find them. Once we started heading north from the Keys, Sue Rocco from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society was able to hear the whales. The last two days however she has not and none of us has spotted them. We’re not worried yet as they’re hard to spot but we’d love to see them as at least some confirmation that they’re perhaps ok. 

One thing we have spotted for the first time on this trip is oil rigs. BIG oil rigs. I’d love to take a tour of one to see how it all operates and how the crews live. We moved between several today, and I couldn’t help but think they were keeping one eye on us and hopefully the other eye on their operations. We’ve also moved into areas that, according to NOAA maps, could have been affected by oil. It’s unlikely we’ll see any on the surface at this point but along with whales, oil is one more thing we’re looking for.  Over the next couple of days, we’ll be moving into areas that have definitely been affected by oil. 

As for me, life on board the Arctic Sunrise is a fun learning process. And a teaching process. The few things I’ve learned, mostly on ship processes and how to get chores done, I pass onto those who join us along the way. This too becomes part of my life on board education. I’ve also lost track of what day it is cause really it hardly matters. One of the long-time crew said that was good as now I’ve got boat-brain. You wake up, do your chores, get to work on the campaign, help out with ship functions, make sure the scientists and reporters have what they need, then fall asleep and do it all over again. All in search of answers to this oil disaster’s effects on creatures big, small, and everything in between.  

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