Entries in Gulf Coast (2)

Friday
May142010

Video Exclusive: Gulf Coast Braces for Oil

Earlier this week, we visited the Gulf Coast and filmed this video in Biloxi, Mississippi about the fast-approaching oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. We met with Mike Murphy from The Nature Conservancy in Biloxi Bay to talk about local wildlife, and how environmental groups are working to protect valuable wetlands in the region.

When we shot the video, on May 12, the oil hadn't yet reached land, but the wind was ripping from the southeast, sending it towards the Louisiana barrier islands. Those southeasterly winds have continued, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now projects that the oil is heading straight for the Mississippi coast.

We've also learned that oil is gushing at roughly 10 times the rate of initial estimates -- at about 70,000 barrels per day, according to an NPR report. In addition, there is news that the latest measure to stop the leak involves shooting "pieces of tires, golf balls, knotted rope" into the broken blowout preventer. (What, bubble gum and duct tape didn't work?)

We also spoke with local fisherman Steve Cason, who works on a shrimp boat tour for tourists, for a perspective on how the spill might affect fishermen in the region. Cason stressed that even though the oil hasn't touched land on the Mississippi coast yet, tourist numbers are already down (they've had to cancel one out of two tours everyday since the spill) and many boats that are normally out fishing during this season are docked.

For information about how you can help, go to The Nature Conservancy's donation / volunteer page or the Audubon Society's Action Center.

-Mark and Dorothée


Thursday
May132010

Flip Clip: Update from New Orleans, LA

First thing this morning, we headed out to the marshlands of Biloxi to interview The Nature Conservancy field rep Mike Murphy about the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. We haven't gotten acclimated to the heat (85-90 degrees) and humidity of the Gulf Coast yet, but our equipment has been having an even harder time adapting: As soon as we stepped out of the car, the video camera shut down, citing condensation overload.

We were able to film the interview eventually, using backup cameras, and we learned (first-hand) that southeasterly winds were kicking up, bringing oil towards the Barrier Islands off Louisiana. That hasn't affected the Mississippi coast much for the time being, but Murphy and other enviros are particularly concerned about coastal wetlands, which are the spawning grounds for much of the wildlife in the area.

We asked Murphy about the booms that TNC is using to contain the oil. He said that while they're useful, wind and waves can easily push oil over the barriers. Later, my dad (also a TNC member) told me about special "sea-grade" oil booms that have curtains extending down into the water to more effectively intercept oil. Those sound like a good tool for protecting coastal wetlands, but unfortunately there currently aren't many available.

Here are a couple of photos I took this afternoon. Stay tuned for the video.

-Mark