Big Spill

While BP’s All But Done With It,
Wildlife in the Gulf’s Still Reeling

Two years ago today, the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig operated by subcontractors working for BP Inc. in the Gulf of Mexico, exploded, caught fire and killed eleven people, in what became the U.S.’s biggest environmental disaster. It took 87 days for the giant British concern to cap the well, after an estimated five million barrels of oil had already spilled into once pristine gulf waters.
BP was forced to set aside a $20 billion fund to cover the cleanup efforts, which were undertaken along with U.S.’s environmental agencies and local organizations, and pay for reparations. Such amount’s still to be fully spent and legal battles still rage over who should pay what and to whom.
It may take years before we know for sure the true extent of the damage to wildlife, fisheries and the ecosystem the spill has caused. But disturbing reports about deformed shrimp and lung-damaged dolphins are no comfort for those who’ve been fighting for years against the use of fossil fuels, exactly to prevent what seems now statistically inevitable: another ecological disaster.
It won’t be easy. And it’s not just because BP, despite settling billions of dollars of claims from the spill, has again asked a U.S. judge for yet another delay to resolve remaining disputes. But energy policies in the U.S. and pretty much every other big western economy are still in large part controlled by the oil and gas industry.
Particularly in the U.S., such fight to end our oil dependency has been disheartening, and the Obama administration’s done less than expected supporting research of alternative energy sources. On the contrary, Continue reading

Horned & Endangered

Attacking Hippos, Upside Down
Rhinos & One Depressed Elephant

And you thought vegetarians were not aggressive. Tell that to a charging 6.000 pounds angry herbivore. It happens all the time.
In other news, there’s a novel way to relocate rhinos. Hint: it’s off the ground. Is that why elephants get depressed?
What’s about hippopotamuses, rhinoceros and elephants that makes us see them as kindred spirits? Their weight, size and diet? Social organization? Or just our plain ignorance?
Despite all we now know about these three species, they each preserve a certain mysterious quality and intelligence, evident in the ways they interact with each other and with us.
They still fight viciously among themselves in the wild, of course. Still, somehow gentleness is a word generally associated with, at Continue reading

Keep it Down

Mass Squid Stranding May Help
Understanding of Whale Deaths

Despite extensive research, and the suspicion that noise pollution has a lot to do with it, the reason why whales, dolphins and other marine species beach themselves to death remain elusive.
The odd phenomenon, which has been recorded since Aristotle times, has been attributed to a number of causes, from increased human activity, to shifts in deep-sea currents to geological changes in the seabed. But none of them has been considered a determining factor.
The picture is clearer when it comes to squids, though. Recent experiments have proven that noise does affect the physiology of cephalopods and in many cases, lead them to beaching.
After thousands of squid washed up along the shores of Spain, in 2001 and 2003, Continue reading

Like Cheeses?

So This Dolphin
Walks on Water…

For a species who consider themselves top of the food chain, masters of the universe, the most evolved and all that, we also have some pretty consistent hang-ups about animal behavior. Take apes and monkeys, for example. In the 1940s and 50s, we couldn’t get enough of them. They were the stars of cutting edge science research, buddy adventure movies, commercials and, as a plus, were adopted by many a celebrity eager to have a non-human baby.
Of course, such an anthropocentric characterization had Continue reading

Whale Watch

New Measures May Be Needed
to Save Whales From Extinction

Lobbying to lift the whale hunting ban was defeated.
So why whales and dolphins continue to be slaughtered
and what else can be done to stop the killings? (*)

Despite a decision by the International Whaling Commission’s annual meeting, which ended Friday in Agadir, Morocco, not to lift the 24-year hunting ban on whales, as global commercial fisheries and dubious scientific concerns were lobbying for, in reality, not much has been accomplished to protect these majestic creatures. On the contrary, a lot still remain in place that is further depleting their worldwide populations.
Beyond the barbaric resolution allowing Greenland’s indigenous Continue reading