Muffling the Science As The Culling of Ocean and Marshlands is Unleashed by BP
Paul K. Haeder as told by Marc Gauthier
Even the staid scientists in these parts are thinking conspiracy. Marc went out with Richard Gibbons, 32, a graduate student studying biology at LSU, and he’s thinking that maybe those rumors about BP hiring crews to go out at night to gather up all the dead animals on the beaches and then disposing of them clandestinely might be true.
Gauthier and Gibbons counted 30 dead or oiled birds out of the 500 total in the two-hour count. They ran into a few dead sea gulls and gannets, but Gibbons pointed out the oyster catchers, terns, and sanderlings who had been partially hit with the oil.
They preen and preen trying to get the muck off, and the end result is that no volunteer can catch them because they can still fly away. But the bottom line is that they are all marked for death, Gibbons pointed out.
The oil and dispersants are toxic to them, and so they get sick, go off into the bushes to hide and die.
Even these volunteers like Gibbons who also is a member of the American Birding Association with all the gear, the pelican cases, all the stuff for rescuing birds, even they were being harassed by the Coast Guard.
“We counted over 100 dead fish. Catfish and drum … many of them were like 40 pounds each. These are bottom feeders, so any line of crap about the oil innocuously floating on the surface, dispersing or dissipating in the sun is an insult to anyone’s intelligence,” Marc said. A dead porpoise they ran into had to be spray painted orange so it wouldn’t be counted twice.
When Marc and Gibbons returned to the Grand Isle dock they were greeted by nausea; Marc vomited. But the people on the dock wanted to know what they had witnessed, and while the dead birds didn’t draw too much reaction, when Marc described all the dead fish, several of the old fishers began to tear up. “That’s it, buddy, that’s the end of my livelihood. When the fish start dying, we’ve got no hope.”
Marc sees that both as despair and some proof that the people are not putting a veil of hope over their eyes: “I’ve seen this gradual shift from the first day when the ones saying this spill is a drop in the bucket were so outspoken. Now, their voices are diminished, muffled because so many people see it’s the biggest environmental catastrophe in America’s history.”
One seasoned crayfisher sees the BP disaster as something meant to be. “Maybe this state will be different and start thinking about how to change this industry.”
Marc both was filmmaker and participant in the town hall meeting in Venice earlier this week. “I talked to them, to all the people, about the number of miles of coast affected. Told them what I had seen in my kayak. I told them I never got a phone call to help even though I registered with BP. Told them that an Army of Americans are ready to come down to help.”
So while BP said only 5 miles of shoreline have been hit in this area, Marc challenged that with his film and observations. “I saw oil on at least 20 miles of shoreline.”
The district attorney got hot under the collar when Marc explained that he’s been “pissing orange” ever since he’s been out on the ocean in the muck. “I explained that I saw oil pumps that were sitting idle, and that no crews were out cleaning up.”
When they skirted Marc away from the microphone, a city councilwoman followed and praised Marc for telling the truth. “Who’s watching our coasts, that’s what I really want to know.”
It’s been a surreal 10 days, as more people are getting sick from the fumes, while at the same time BP doesn’t want images of people wearing respirators. “One fishing boat captain who’s been hired by BP was told she’d be fired if she was caught wearing a mask.”
Marc and the others he’s met tracking and reporting on the story are trying to anticipate where Obama might end up Friday when he comes down to the Gulf – Venice or Grand Isle.
“I just got a phone call from a man who has an oil-eating bacteria that eats the stuff right off of rocks. The Coast Guard is now talking with him.” The product is approved in 35 states and 35 countries, yet the Coast Guard drags its proverbial feet looking at other alternatives.
People cheered the locals who had their three minutes with the EPA, BP and Coast Guard. Questions like, “Why would BP use a banned chemical, banned in England?” went unanswered. Spin is king, and all the king’s men are running around lost in a fog of nonsense and inaction while their world is being fouled.
Commander Stanton was able to tell the crowd that the Coast Guard was way behind with getting the skimmers in position, but he reassured them the Coast Guard would make BP clean it up. Then, California Coast Guard Commander Roger Lafarier introduced himself as the new commander of the operation, bidding Stanton farewell.