Above: Gulf Shores, Alabama 2009 June
Below: Pascagoula, Mississippi 2010 June
Our second trip to the Gulf began in mid-June 2010. Again we used our faithful plane "Bessie" to fly over and photo-document the Gulf, this time focusing on areas east of the Mississippi and offshore out to 100 nm. We took the opportunities on this trip to visit with folks from the local bird rescue centers in Fort Jackson, LA (IBRRC). We also join in a "think-tank" meeting in New Orleans for NGOs and other groups to outline practical large-scale actions that could be taken by the public to help with the rescue, protection, and ensuring survival of the Gulf and its wildlife.
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Bird Rescues 2010 June
So many birds have been saved! It might be a proverbial drop in the bucket, but as all know who have ever given all their energy to helping life in front of them survive and flourish, it is vital work and heartwarming to see the hundreds and hundreds of pelicans (80%) and egrets, herons, terns, gulls (most of the other 20% so far) whose lives have been saved, who are recovering and are soon to be transported and released. There are also lots of babies through young juveniles, although so far rescue efforts are aiming primarily at breeding adults who can be rescued to breed again.
Some interesting insights came from some precious hours spent talking with IBRRC folks.
Here are some in a nutshell, and they apply to some extent broadly to other bird and marine mammal rescue centers in areas affected by the Gulf oil spill:
1. All the equipment, funds, and other infrastructure needed to treat all the oiled birds being found and captured to date are being provided for by BP with almost no delay. There are no real answer to questions like "What do you guys need most?" They have or can simply ask for what they need in order to accomplish the rescuing they are equipped to do at these centers. They'll be moving out of the hurricane evacuation zone in the coming weeks, to a bigger more permanent facility.
2. The authorities in charge of search, capture, and transport to treatment facilities are the USFWS and LDWF. Not Tri-State or IBRRC, not BP. So how does the public sector help? Unfortunately, the models for successful wildlife rescues after oil spills in other parts of the world, such as South Africa and the penguins affected, do not work well here in the Gulf. Public-sector wildlife rescue organizations are not tightly connected to the authorized agencies leading wildlife rescue or oil spill cleanup here. So it's a little like asking how can the public sector can help the government win a war. You can offer millions of dollars, unlimited equipment and skilled volunteers, but there is no easy way for USFWS or LDWF to accept any of it or use it. Or so it is at present. Maybe with good vision and ideas, this challenge can be surmounted, a new paradigm can be established, a new kind of working relationship between the public sector and these government agencies.
How can the public help?
On the Larry King Live show recently, we heard that they are raising millions of dollars in donations, to be handled by three organizations including the United Way. I have no idea what these organizations will do with those funds. I haven't been able to find a way to GIVE these guys the equivalent of a million dollars and make any big difference in the health or survival prospects of the Gulf wildlife or ocean ecosystem. Or for that matter any answer for the many people here whose livelihoods are built around fishing and tourism. I haven't heard Larry King say what the organizations will do either...?
What is a constructive response to this spill for future good?
General lessons are critically important, but anger and blame are neither useful nor productive.
Yes, spare no precautions and take better ones in the future when it comes to drilling for oil, especially in pristine natural ecosystems.
Yes, pursue alternative energy solutions that are nontoxic and much less harmful, actually or potentially, to nature.
Yes, inform and educate the world, especially the younger generations, of the importance of nature, of biodiversity, and of ways to protect and preserve it without becoming reactionary and stopping real progress.
Okay, good general rules. But how do people and ecosystems both weather the transition from large human populations dependent on oil for livelihoods and way of life, to modest populations living sustainably with healthy ecosystems?
Well, you can see why these conversations took hours ...! I can't say we came up with all the solutions, but there are some things we all agreed on. In our own lives, find ways to live those adages we read on almost every trash dumpster -- "reduce, re-use, recycle." It's not deprivation to live less wastefully or to consider the consequences of our actions for several generations ahead (including overpopulating those generations).
But not everybody can earn a living by saving oiled birds. So to take that route in order to feel good about what you do every day may be individually satisfying, but it's not a solution for everybody. Which brings us back to the challenges noted above. How do we stop and repair the damage from this oil spill? How do we rescue and protect the ocean ecosystem and marine life whose habitat has been so severely contaminated and is continuing to be ruined?
Shores of the Chandeleurs Islands
There are many questions to be answered. We have yet to hear or understand workable ideas for how to stop this gusher, how to neutralize its effects, how to rescue and relocate as much of the wildlife as possible before hurricane season ensures that they are buried in toxic oil, and last but not least, how to put the public sector's help to effective use.
We would like to learn more about why this gusher has not been successfully capped, whether it can be stopped some other way, whether it is flirting with danger to consider digging relief wells to reduce the pressure.
We would like to learn about whether it is practical to flood the Gulf with oil-eating microbes who would swallow up the crude and leave only harmless waste and still have a sufficiently oxygen-rich ecosystem that marine life could flourish. And to learn about what other long-term solutions exist not just to clean up this mess but to preserve the Gulf and other natural ecosystems for the foreseeable future while also employing people and providing sufficient energy for legitimate societal needs. Stay tuned!
This time we flew more easterly, which put us almost due north from the Deepwater Horizon rig; and we flew much farther south off shore (nearly 100 miles). The weather was good enough that we could fly the entire length of the Chandeleur Islands easily, and we got very good looks at them and the hundreds -- thousands -- of pelicans, egrets, herons, etc. that call them home.
The sights are similar to what they were several weeks ago, although we saw less evidence of dispersant, and more of the large (Volkswagen-size) floating black blobs of oil, beginning as few as 10 miles off shore. The immensity of the spill is almost mind-boggling. You'll see a video taken from the air about a week ago along the shoreline from Gulf Shores, AL eastward to Orange Beach (courtesy of Brian Pierce); and we have still photos from a year ago -- "Before" photos -- of the same area. The streaks and sheen of oil are everywhere.
Stay tuned for a summary of what we learn next week!
Photos from the Gulf of Mexico 2010 June
Stay tuned for this gallery of photos and videos!
"The Story of Pellie Lou - a Pelican who survived the Gulf of Mexico oil spill"
by Bonny L. Schumaker, Ph.D.
With 46 photos from the Gulf of Mexico.
ALL proceeds go to benefit Gulf wildlife!
Order your autographed hard copies or an electronic copy here!
Read about our rescues under Rescue Tails!
Here are some samples:
A Dog Named Pepper Doesn't Give up Easily on Life!
20130428 - This 15-yr-old deaf, blind, arthritic senior held out in a hot, dry, desert parking lot until love finally found him!
CHAZ - No Ordinary Extraordinary Cur!
20130422 - Left to die but instead, this super-intelligent deep-hearted dog discovered love, family, and even fun -- from the most unlikely mentors!
Turbulent Trails for Tails from TX-20130413
Six rescue dogs from east Texas find forever homes in Nevada and California!
Who was rescued, and who was the rescuer? Anyone who has known this kind of bond has felt something so deep, so real, so ancient, that it cannot be described with words. These bonds ground us and free us from pettiness in our lives. Thank you Sheba. Rest in peace.
A Letter From Your Admirers! 20121231
This was a last-minute challenge that seemed beyond even our own grandest heroic imaginings. But it turned out not to be beyond the devoted hearts and energies of about 30 rescuers, shelter staff, volunteers, and families working together. Forty-three (yes, 43!) dogs in one day, from dead-ends in a Porterville shelter to homes and real lives with real humans who love and want them. Rescuers ROCK!
Orphaned very young, left alone and hungry til her fur fell out and her skin was covered with mange. Thanks to some big-hearted Texas rescuers, not only did she recover, she found the family who wanted to love her forever. How glad we were to be able to give this little pup with the big paws the ride to the rest of her life!
20121205-Blackie Goes Home at Last, and Taylor Turns Texan!
Four long months since Blackie's lifelong human companion and partner Tammy suffered a serious injury from a passing truck and disappeared from his life. Suddenly Blackie was in a shelter kennel, and Tammy fought for her life as she dreamed of her beloved dog. Thanks to many people, both of these souls survived to find each other again! This was a rescue and a reunion we'll never forget.
The same rains that made us work "On WHEELS Of Care" this week kept us grounded for this trip, which serendipitously combined the transport of Skip northward and the joyful and miraculous reunion of Miss T'Chen, who had been rescued and taken to Illinois after Hurricane Isaac, with her family in Baton Rouge!
This flight went almost as planned, and our plane was filled to over-flowing on every leg. And we met some wonderful new cat and dog rescues in Idaho and Oregon!
20 Lucky rescued dogs flown to homes in Canada!
2012 Sep 22
It turned out to a journey full of unexpected challenges, but these 20 lucky lovable canines who had been through the worst of times in California were just the best through it all, and now they are warming the hearts and laps and lives of some very lucky Canadian families!
Spindletop Scandal and the Search for Scarlett
2012 July 17 - present
With pitbull-like tenacity, we wouldn't take "NO" for an answer. Out of 21 dogs we sought, we have closure on all but two. Alas, one of those two is our Scarlett.
Tale of seven cities, six cats, and five goats!
2012 July 16
Who knows if the pleas for help brought the plane, or vice-versa.
But when serendipity puts this much together, there's no saying no!
Homeless Mom and Pups no More!
2012 July 08
Sometimes rescuers find the IDEAL person to adopt that animal in need ...
themselves! And in the process, a hole gets filled for the entire family.
This lucky mom now lives with Bear, Sheba, and Dave!
From Empty Nest to Love Fest!
2012 May 11
That last urgent plea came for the five orphaned pups ...
but what about the two large senior boys who would probably never get adopted?
Some people are just angels, meant to be who they are and where they are.
Check out these two and their new happy pack!
JEREMIAH has come home to us!
UPDATE 2012 July 7!
2012 January 13
His adopter called to say she had become ill, and could we care for Jeremiah? You bet we could. We rented a plane and flew to Arizona and retrieved him immediately. Jeremiah was indeed a true friend, and we aim to be his true friends, too. He has been eating like crazy and slept his stress away for the first few days, and now he's acting like a young dog again. Read more here!
CHAMP found at the airport!
2012 January 01
A sad, scared but dignified young Champ quickly won the hearts of everyone who met him at the New Orleans airport, and within two days we had permission from his original breeders to give him to a young couple with a younger female boxer mix, all of whom fell totally in love with him at first sight! Champ and Miss Princess are leading the good life now, and Champ's new dad finally has the fishing buddy he wanted! They tell us we made their dreams come true. We think they made Champ's come true, too.
Abby & Dinozo -- Two of a Kind!
2011 September--2012 January
Orphaned brother and sister, rescued and adored until calamity struck and they lost their family. Orphaned again, these gentle gems and perfect canine citizens found love and adventure with us until we found them their true forever home! Abby & Dinozo came with us to Washington January 7, and they were welcomed warmly and immediately into a home. Read more here!
Yo! Get a Load of Yolo!
2011 November--2012 January
Left in the cold, high in the mountains of southern California, life was over before it had barely begun for this orphan teenager.
Little did he know, his adventures had only begun! As of January 7, it's back to snow but this time with a family who adores him, and lots of fun and play in the Pacific Northwest!
Saving Scarlett -- Love Forever at Last!
Found on the streets, teats full but puppies absent, a battle-torn very hungry pitbull.
Hardly that sought-after doggie in the window.
But after we brought Miss Scarlett home to love and food, warmth and stuffed animals,
we discovered a warm heart and sweet spirit that changed us forever.
2011 July--September 29, A Joyful Reunion At Last!
Here they are during their flight with four other dogs Sep 29 (New Orleans to Oakland, CA, fuel stop in Roswell, NM).
And here's a photo from the happiest reunion ever!
More photos and updated videos here!
Sheba-Cosette - this lovely lady waited a lifetime!
Jeremiah - a true friend finds a new lease on life!
Two Giant Dogs & three cats reunited with their family on Whidbey Island, WA
Chihuahuas "Betty" & "JellyBean" fly to their rescue in Bremerton, WA!
New Year's Rescue: 33 dogs & cats are flown to rescue in the Pacific Northwest!
Hounds fending for themselves for years in Alabama fly to rescue in Arizona!
Romo & Stanley are flown to safe havens in Arizona!
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico - 2013
2013 Apr 12 - Mayflower, AR Pipeline Spill
2013 Apr 02 - Bayou Corne #6
2013 Mar 23 - IMMS Marine Mammals
2013 Mar 19 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#5
2013 Feb 15 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#4
2013 Jan 26 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#3
2012 Dec 24 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#2
2012 Nov 08 - Tar Sands and Texas
2012 Aug 30 - Hurricane Isaac Conquered
2012 Aug 28 - Hurricane Isaac Arrives!
2012 Aug 13 - Sinkhole in Bayou Corne, LA
2012 Jun 13-Dispersant Spraying Exercise off LA
2012 April - Chronicles of the Endeavor
2012 Dec 10 - How Dilute is Dilute Enough?
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico - 2012
Sat Nov 17 - Platform Explosion
Wed Nov 14 - Barrier Islands 1
Sat Nov 10 - OIL
Fri Nov 09 - OIL
Sat Oct 06 - Whale Sharks
Fri Oct 05 - OIL
Fri Sep 14 - OIL
Sun Sep 09 - Hurricane Isaac
Sun Aug 12 - Whale Sharks
Wed Jul 11 - Whales & More
Fri Jun 29 - Whale Sharks & More
Dominica - The Nature Island!
On Wings Of Care flies to the Eastern Caribbean for whales and sea turtles!
Read more here!
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico - 2011
Sperm Whales & Whale Sharks:
Cape Cod, MA
Our Gift for YOU for 2011!
Click Here to Smile
from your heart, out!
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf, 2010
Galapagos Veterinary Support
Galapagos vets do much with little,
thanks to true friends who shipped a TON of supplies and meds from the U.S. in June, 2011.
“Man can no longer live for himself alone. We must realize that all life is valuable and that we are united to all life. From this knowledge comes our spiritual relationship with the universe.”