Investigation Under Resourced!?

by Dan Howells

August 19, 2010

Dan HowellsAfter leaving Dry Tortugas out in the Gulf, we came about 10 miles from Key West to take a few people off and put a few on board. The sponge guys left and we were happy to work with them. Now we picked up scientists Caz Taylor and Erin Grey from Tulane University who are going to do plankton tows looking at some of the littlest of creatures (specifically blue crab larvae while also gathering data to enable other researchers to look at impacts on larval bluefin tuna, red snapper, and other species of ecological or economic importance) in the ocean to see how the spill affected them.

We’ll also be looking for the biggest of creatures with Sue Rocca from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, who with help from the crew will scan for whales and sharks to see if they’re where the should be (we hope we find some). To make all this happen our land based team worked out the logistics while those on board did the chores necessary when people come and go. Who gets on when and how do we get the luggage to shore (lots of scuba and camera gear).

Aboard we did the laundry, the extra dishes, cleaning up the deck, preparing for the helicopter, securing loose ends, maintenance, preparing meals and a little spit and shine. With help from our supporters we are able to do the kind of independent work we want to do to tell the story of what’s happening out here after the oil spill bringing aboard a range of scientists to study this in different ways. So with new folks joining us sometimes comes a newspaper. The USA Today ended up in the Mess around dinner. And on page 6 is a story that says the Chemical Safety Board assigned to investigate the oil spill says it is understaffed and overburdened. Really???

Southern Stingray

Southern Stingray in the Dry Tortugas. Photo courtesy of Todd Warshaw.

One of the largest environmental disasters in the US and the folks trying to figure out what happened don’t have the resources? Thousands of oil rigs out there and we’re not even putting in the people and financial power to find out to see if it’s even possibly safe to do? And the Obama administration wants to lift the moratorium on new exploratory drilling early.

BP wants to move forward with possibly even more dangerous drilling in the Arctic. This all frames the strategy of the administration and BP from the beginning. Do the dog and pony show, sink the oil, sniff some fish, hope everyone forgets, and move right along folks. I’m glad we’re out here with others looking to expose the truth. Cause the truth sure ain’t coming from those in charge of this mess.

— Dan Howells
Greenpeace Campaigner

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