by: Omar Mulla
Oceanic Defense Youth Ambassador
Some notes from the ground of what the situation is like around here and what’s been going on recently. I live on Mobile Bay, AL and have been traveling back and forth to the beach over the past few weeks to observe what’s been going on.
June 1st, 2010
-One of the big things I’ve been noticing a lot recently around here is the increase in military vehicles. Pretty much every time I get out on the road I see at least one either heading towards the beach or coming back from it. The same goes for helicopters. Almost every time I’m outside I can hear one and look up and it will be traveling towards the Gulf over Mobile Bay. From video I’ve seen and what I’ve read, Dauphin Island, AL has turned into what looks like a war zone as military set up protective barriers and gabions to protect the shoreline and other vital habitat.
-The first tar balls washed up on the white sands of Dauphin Island, AL on May 8th. A few days after, people were starting to see a few wash up in Gulf Shores, AL. As of right now (5:00pm, June 4th, 2010) I have not personally heard anything about beaches being closed but I’m sure that information is soon to come.
- On Saturday May 29th when I went to the beach I walked along the shore near the jetties at Alabama Point in Orange Beach. I could not see any signs of oil nor could I smell it in the air. A couple of friends and I climbed to the end of the jetty and saw a school of what looked like at least 100 rays. I went back to Orange Beach on Tuesday June 1st and still could not smell any oil in the air. However, the wind was NOT blowing from the south/southwest which was probably why I couldn’t smell anything. The beaches were all still open and there were still boaters in the water, even people swimming although not nearly as many as in the previous weeks. While at Alabama Point I saw a charter boat come into the pass with what looked like tar on the hull. The bottom of the boat was coated in a brownish-orange grime.
-I don’t know the exact date but in the first week of May a dead dolphin washed up behind my friend’s house in Orange Beach.
-Frustration is escalating amongst locals. People are very unhappy with the decisions being made by federal agencies because they are not near adequate and you can hear a lot of people saying “They’re not the ones who live here.” Personally I agree with what those people are saying. Listen to Billy Nungesser and you’ll hear it all. As frustration and anger is growing, people are talking more and more about taking the matter into their own hands. Volunteer efforts are picking up and I must say it is a beautiful thing to see how powerful we really are when we come together. Like with the hair booms that are being made… The BP response team already announced that they will be using commercial sorbent boom instead and said that the hair booms will not be applied to combat the oil. The general response from locals was “If BP doesn’t use hair boom, we will.” And obviously we will continue the production of the hair boom.
-As most people have already heard, there has been a no-fly zone set up so that the media cannot view the reality of what is happening. However, my friend Brinkley Hutchings and her dad took a plane over the spill twice to unveil what was actually going on and publicize the full extent of the spill –something national media was not doing. Anger and concern is also building over BPs use of Corexit 9500 –the dispersant they are pumping into the well head. What this is doing is hiding the oil from sight so it can’t be seen from the surface of the water, and making it more difficult to clean up by literally “dispersing” it. Not to mention it is far more toxic than the oil itself...
-People living on Mobile Bay are lashing out at Governor Bob Riley for his lack of effort to initiate protection of the bay and time is running out. Boom has been strung out in parts of the bay and a team is assembled in Fairhope at the public boat launch on Mobile Street. Something that people here want to see from the Coast Guard is for them to literally close off the mouth of the bay to further reduce the chances of oil coming up into the estuary but they said that that’s something they aren’t going to do.
-June 2nd: Oil hits Dauphin Island in full and was met immediately by cleanup crews on shore.
-June 4th: Oil has officially washed up on the beaches of Gulf Shores and Pensacola. 3 oiled birds are being treated in Pensacola. The smell of kerosene is looming all along the coastline and some people are falling sick. My friend’s personal trainer who lives down there had to see his doctor because his throat was bothering him after just being outside all weekend and breathing in the air.
This is basically the “status report” of what things are like around here right now. Today, oil has been confirmed on our beaches. As I said to a friend earlier this afternoon, it’s time to put on the war paint. We’ve got to fight with everything in us. These are our coasts; we live here and it is our responsibility to protect it by all means possible. We’ve got to take the matter into our own hands and stand our ground.
Sunday, June 6th is World Oceans Day. There will be a "26 Mile Prayer" on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi that I will be attending. I'm planning on taking a lot of pictures and some video, so keep checking my page/profile.
A quote that has been stuck in my head through all of this: “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” And something very inspiring I heard recently at youth group “Don’t be mad at the darkness for being so dark, be mad at the light for not being bright enough.”
It’s up to us now; Fight.
Oceanic Defense Youth Ambassador
Check my profile and page for photos that I will be uploading!
Links to the reports from today:
Feel free to contact me about community involvement / volunteer opportunities!
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We are an international non-profit organization with members in over 60 countries, spanning 6 continents with 1 mission; healthy aquatic ecosystems free from human abuse and neglect. Oceanic Defense teaches people to protect our oceans by acting responsibly as consumers and by making smart decisions in our daily lives. Whether we are buying groceries, commuting to work, planning a vacation or advocating within our own communities; each action we take or decision we make either helps or hurts our oceans. We empower people to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem and work together to protect our blue planet.
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