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Pygmy Sperm Whale Stranding In Galveston—Every News Story Gives You The Opportunity To Learn More And To Take Action

A Pygmy Sperm Whale washed up on the beach in Galveston early on Wednesday.

Above you see a Houston Chronicle picture of the incident.

From The Galveston County Daily News-

“A vacationer from Dallas and his 11-year-old daughter discovered a pygmy sperm whale thrashing about in the surf Wednesday morning on the West End. The Marine Mammal Stranding Network came to Shores Drive and FM 3005 shortly after 9 a.m. and placed a stretcher under the whale and lifted it into a rescue truck. The animal was breathing and its eyes were open. It was taken to a holding tank at the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.”

Here is the link to the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

Unfortunately, the whale has since been euthanized.

Here are facts about the Pygmy Sperm Whale from The American Cetacean Society.

Here is a Houston Chronicle story about different types of whales that live in the Gulf of Mexico.

An unusual number of dolphin calves have been found dead in the Gulf of Mexico in recent months.

The article I link to above does not assert that these dolphin deaths have been caused by the BP oil disaster.  It does say though that this is possible and tests are being done to determine the facts.

More concrete is the fact that large parts of the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico are covered with oil.

From The Huffington Post–

“Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a top scientist’s video and slides that she says demonstrate the oil isn’t degrading as hoped and has decimated life on parts of the sea floor.That report is at odds with a recent report by the BP spill compensation czar that said nearly all will be well by 2012. At a science conference in Washington Saturday, marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia aired early results of her December submarine dives around the BP spill site. She went to places she had visited in the summer and expected the oil and residue from oil-munching microbes would be gone by then. It wasn’t.”

Here is the web page for Dr. Samantha Joye. Dr. Joye led the study about the oil at the bottom of the gulf.

Here is the Gulf Spill Restoration website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

My friend Bob Cavnar has written about the oil at the bottom of the Gulf at The Daily Hurricane.

The impact of the BP spill may not be as bad as some first feared. But it appears to be bad enough.

The government, academic researchers, the press, and groups such as Greenpeace should keep monitoring conditions in the Gulf.

(Below–A picture of the oil-covered bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. It seems that sea worms of some kind do well in oil. Here is a previous post I’ve written here about sea worms.)

Every news story offers the chance to learn more than we know at the moment. It is up to each of us to learn about the world. When we learn more, then we are more likely to take action to improve the world.

A great book on marine mammals is the National Audubon Society’s Guide To Marine Mammals of the World(Books remain the strongest source on many issues and subjects. Please consider getting off the computer and reading a book.)

From the Marine Mammal Stranding Network of Texas are facts about the 29 types of marine mammals that live in the Gulf of Mexico.

Here are some basic facts about the Gulf of Mexico. This site I link to here, Gulfbase.org, has far more than just basics if you would like to know more.

A useful book on the coast in and around Galveston is The Formation and Future of the Upper Texas Coast by John Anderson. This book, published by Texas A & M,  has scientific value while also being accessible.

I cannot stress this fact enough—It is up to the individual to learn about the world and to take action to improve the world.

You may well decide to take that action in concrt with others. But at core—You must decide yourself to be involved.

February 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Facts About Gulf Of Mexico Oil Spill From Deepwater Horizon Rig Explosion—Updated

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Blogger’s Note—This post has been newly organized and is now being updated at this link. Please visit the new post and thank you for reading Texas Liberal.

(Blogger’s Note–This post is updated through today June 24.  If you take the time to get all the way to the end, there are all sorts of links with the latest news and larger issues of  just why an oil spill is so bad and the history of other major spills. As you read down the list of updates, you’ll be able to see some of the events as they unfolded. I imagine most of the update links are still good so you can also read the stories that have been the lead-up to the events of the present time. )

Here is a blog post with facts and updates on the BP/Transocean Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

(Above–The spill from space.)

(Update-4/30/10–The first of the oil may have reached the Louisiana Gulf coast.)

(Update 5/1/10–Some feel BP has not done all it could to address the disaster.)

(Update 5/1/10–Here is what a worst case scenario would look like as the oil keeps spewing out.)

(Update 5/1/10–Commercial fishers in Louisiana are concerned.)

(Update 5/1/10–President Obama will be visiting the Gulf to see the spill.)

(Update 5/2/10–The BBC has a number of reports on the spill. This provides some sense on how the rest of the world sees what is taking place.)

The Houston Chronicle has a web page with all the ongoing coverage of the spill.

Here is oil spill coverage from the great liberal magazine Mother Jones.

This June 24 article asks if BP is also drilling risky wells in Alaska.

This June 23 report says that the judge who overturned President Obama’s drilling ban owns shares in the oil industry.

Here is a June 21 story about the health impact of the spill.

From this report—

Q: Has anyone gotten sick from the oil spilled in the Gulf?

A: Yes, there have been reports of illnesses, but relatively few among people not involved in the spill cleanup. Most of the reported illnesses were related to odors or fumes. Almost all were mild and temporary, and many were in early May, within the first few weeks of the April 20 explosion. The reports are based on a doctor’s assessment, not on lab testing. All but 35 of the 109 spill-related illnesses in Louisiana have been workers; Alabama has 27 reports of illnesses, and Florida and Mississippi have had none.

This June 18 NY Times story is about how President Obama, in getting BP to pay, is restoring some balance in the relationship between multi-national corporations and average folks.

This June 11 NY Times column says that it is not enough to boycott BP stations of you want to hurt BP. What you would really have to do is use less oil.

Here is information on filing a claim with BP if you have been impacted by the spill.

With the spill now said to be bigger than the Exxon Valdez disaster, here are many facts about the Exxon Valdez.

Here is a list of four environmental disasters worse than the Deepwater Horizon spill.

The spill has impacted Native Americans living in Louisiana. Native Americans in Louisiana have long felt screwed-over by oil companies.

Here is a report on a question many have wondered about—With all this oil in the Gulf, what will happen if there is a big hurricane?

Here is the BP blog on the spill response.

BP has had spills and safety issues in the past.

(Below—Efforts in the gulf to contain the oil. That ship looks a bit outmatched.)

Hurricane season does not start for a month, yet here is a threat moving towards the Gulf coast.

Here are facts about the Mississippi River Delta from the National Wetlands Research Center of the United States Geological Survey.

Here is an essay from the Nature Conservancy about Gulf Coast prairies and marshes. This is an area that may be hit by the advancing oil.

Here is the web home of the Louisiana Shrimp Association. This are folks who want to be able to go out and fish for shrimp and who want you to be willing to buy shrimp.

Greenpeace has questions about what is taking place in the Gulf.

Here is a BBC map of how the oil has spread since the initial explosion.

Here the web page of WKRG-TV in New Orleans. WKRG has a running meter of the estimated oil that has gone into the ocean.

(Below–Many people are not pleased with BP.)

( Update 5/2/10–Interior Secretary Salazar believes the flow of oil can be stemmed, but the timeline for this is not clear.)

Here is the White House blog on the disaster.

The U.S. Coast Guard has a useful site with plenty of facts and pictures.

( Below—A controlled burn of the oil.)

(Update 5/2/10—National Public Radio offers this report on a 1980 Gulf of Mexico leak that took a year to plug.)

(Update 5/2/10–Politico reports that blame is being assessed in a way that mimics the Hurricane Katrina  Gulf coast disaster.)

(Update 5/2/10–BP has held a press conference discussing the spill.)

(Update 5/3/10–President Obama asserts that BP will pay the full cost of the cleanup.)

(Update 5/3/10—The Louisiana  seafood industry is waiting to assess the impact of the oil.)

( Update 5/3/10–The Austin, Minnesota Daily Herald says it is even more clear we must find new energy sources so that we use less oil.)

( Update 5/3/10–This N.Y.  Times story discusses how bad the spill really is and how bad it may or may not become.)

( Below—Oil washing up on the Louisiana coast on May 8.)

Burning the oil to make it go away is part of the response to the spill. Here is an article from the Mobile Press-Regster about what burning could accomplish and expressing the view that the burning should have started earlier than it did.

The spill began when an offshore oil rig exploded and sank. 11 people were killed in this disaster. The name of the rig was the Deepwater Horizon rig. The rig was leased by BP.

This Huffington Post article asserting that BP has resisted rig safety regulations, takes a somewhat different approach to the spill than does BP.

( Update 5/4/10–It may still be three days before oil hits the Gulf coast.)

( Update 5/4/10–Some BP shareholders are angry at the company because they feel BP did not do enough in advance to prevent the spill.)

( Update 5/4/10–-Some are concerned that the chemicals being used to clean the spill are also harmful to the ocean and to wildlife.)

(Update 5/4/10–The Democratic nominee for Governor of  Texas, Bill White of Houston, offered his views on the explosion and spill.)

The firm that owned the rig was Transocean. Here is the statement by Transocean about the explosion.

(Update 5/13/10–-Transocean feels lawsuit damages against the company for the blast should be limited at $27 million.)

There is a joint response web site which is being run by the both the companies and the federal agencies involved in cleaning up the oil. There is a lot of information at this site.

Here is a law firm that would like to file a suit on your behalf if you feel you’ve been impacted by the spill. It seems that this firm specializes in such cases.

(Update 5/5/10—Here is an excellent report from National Public Radio that is a timeline of what has taken place since the initial explosion.)

(Update 5/5/10—The Winnipeg Free Press asks what the spill will do to gas prices.)

(Update 5/5/10–Here is a report on damage to the underwater environment.)

(Update 5/6/10–A U. of Miami professor says the oil is entering currents that would send it up the U.S. east coast.)

(Update 5/6/10—Here is a story about the containment dome that will, hopefully, stop the ongoing flow of water into the ocean.)

Here are useful facts about oil spills and impact of oil spills on animals as prepared in 2002 by the Novi Meadows Elementary school in Novi, Michigan.

From the Novi site, here is how oil covered sea otters are cleaned—

“When sea otters are taken to a cleaning facility, the heavy oiled otters will be washed first. Workers will wash the otters with warm water because they hope it will break down the oil. The warm water also can warm the otters up. The otters also will get medical treatment while they are being cleaned. The otters will then have to wait so they can dry.”

(Update 5/7/10—Here is a story about a “social networking crisis map” of the spill.)

( Update 5/7/10—One idea to help keep the oil from reaching land is to increase the flow of water entering the Gulf from the Mississippi River.)

(Update 5/7/10—Here is a report on the progress of the metal box that was built to contain the leak.)

(Update 5/8/10—Efforts to place a big dome over the spill are not going so well.)

(Update 5/8/10—NASA has made an infrared image of the extent of the oil in the Gulf.)

(Update 5/9/10–The containment box has been parked on the bottom of the ocean and another effort will be made soon to use the box again.)

(Update 5/10/10–The next solution to be attempted to plug the leak will be to blast garbage into the pipes that are spewing the oil.)

(Update 5/10/10–-BP is spraying more chemicals into the Gulf to stop the oil from spreading.)

(Update 5/11/10–Hearings are being held in Washington today to get the causes of the disaster.)

(Update–5/11/10—The first hearings have been held. Shocker–Nobody said they were at fault.)

(Update–5/12/10—Here is a BBC map where you can track the extent of the oil slick from the beginning to the current day.)

(Update 5/12-10–BP thinks they may have a solution to the ongoing leak. There is also a video in this report of the oil gushing into the sea.)

(Update 5/13/10—Tar balls are beginning to show up on the Gulf coast.)

(Update 5/13/10–-The President of BP, Tony Hayward, says his job is on the line over the spill. No kidding.)

(Update 5/13/10—Criminal charges are being considered for this disaster.)

(Update 5/13/10—It is proving difficult to calculate just how much oil is being leaked into the ocean each day.)

The Independent newspaper in the U.K has an article abut the potential loss of marine life in the Gulf from this large spill.

(Below–One bird that could suffer losses from the oil is the Brown Pelican. You see that this pelican has already taken a severe hit.)

The Gulf of Mexico Foundation has many facts about the Gulf and about groups that advocate for the Gulf.

(Update 5/14/10–The latest efforts to stop the oil.)

(Update 5/14/10—President Obama had harsh words for the companies and federal regulators involved in the spill.)

(Update 5/15/10–Some accuse BP of using the Gulf as a “Toxic Testing Ground.”)

(Update 5/15/10–Here is a video of what it is like to actually be on the Gulf where the oil is floating around.)

(Update 5/16/10–Large amounts of oil are being found underwater.)

(Update 5/16/10–Tourism at some Gulf of Mexico beaches has begun to suffer.)

(Update 5/16/10—The combination of the use of chemicals to treat the oil and likelihood of  hurricanes in the Gulf  could cause the oil to appear on the Gulf coast for years to come.)

(Update 5/16/10—Progress is finally being made in diverting some of the oil away from spilling into the ocean.)

(Update 5/17/10—The oil may soon be headed up the Atlantic coast.)

(Update 5/17/10–Here is the latest on BP’s efforts to stop the spill.)

(Update 5/17/10–President Obama will be setting up a panel to investigate the spill. )

(Update 5/18/10—Tarballs have been found at Key West. Update to the update–These tarballs were not from the Gulf spill. They were from some other source. I’m not sure if that is good news or not.)  )

(Update 5/18/10–-BP says they have spent $625 million cleaning up the spill. I guess they will be passing that on to consumers.)

(Update 5/18/10—BP had little planning in place for a disaster such as they one that has occurred.)

(Update 5/18/10-–Here are four videos of the leak under the sea.)

(Update 5/19/10--Here is a story suggesting what type of new federal oversight is needed to prevent another spill of this kind.)

(Update 5/19/10—The American Veterinary Medicine Association says responders are ready to deal with wildlife harmed by oil. Though to this point there have few animals found that have impacted.)

(Update 5/19/10—The European Space Agency says it has photos showing that oil is headed towards coral reefs off the coast of Florida.)

(Update 5/19/10--BP does not seem to have a plan in place to help Vietnamese immigrant fishermen who are losing business to the spill.)

(Update 5/20/10–The U.S. and Cuba are discussing the possible effects of the spill on Cuba.)

(Update 5/20/10—Self-regulating oil companies are the norm around the world.)

(Update 5/20/10—A so-called “top kill” procedure will be tried this upcoming Sunday to stop the leak.)

(Update 5/20/10—Here are where things stand as of  noon Central Time.)

(Update 5/21/10–BP denies covering up the extent of the spill.)

(Update  5/21/10—A New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial directs the blame at BP for the story.)

(Update 5/22/10–The Hindu newspaper in India has written a report about the commission President Obama has formed to investigate the spill.)

(Update 5/22/10–Here is the latest  forecast for where the oil is headed.)

(Update 5/22/10–For all the talk about using hair to stop the spill, it turns out that such an idea will not work.)

( Update 5/22/10—A leading scientist for the National Wildlife Federation discusses the effect the oil may have on marine life.)

While it is clear enough that an oil spill is bad for the marine environment, the effects of oil in ocean are specific beyond the basic fact that such a spill is bad.

The web site Green living tips, written in Australia, has some of the specifics on the harmful impacts of an oil spill.

(Below–Tarballs washing up on the Louisiana coast on May 14. They do not look very nice.)

From the Green Living facts –

“When oil is spilled in waterways, it spreads very quickly with the help of wind and currents. …When oil starts mixing in water, it can change composition and becomes what’s known as “mousse”. This is a sticky substance that clings even more to whatever it comes in contact with. Many marine animals don’t know to avoid a slick and some fish may even be attracted to it as it can resemble food.”

The National Institutes of Health has an excellent web page of resources to learn about the effect of oil spills.

(Update 5/23/10 --Where the spill stands as of the morning of the 23rd.)

(Update 5/23/10–Off shore drilling is banned in British Columbia, Canada and that is not going to change anytime soon.)

(Update 5/23/10—Folks are mad in Louisiana. Though I wonder how many of these folks drive gas-guzzling SUV’s and broke the laws about proper fishing from their fishing boats.)

(Update 5/23/10–BP may not be able to start the latest attempt to stop the oil until this Wednesday.)

(Update 5/23/10–Here is what folks in Canada are reading about Interior Secretary Salazar criticizing BP.)

(Update 5/24/10—Here is the latest. The oil is still belching into the ocean and the costs of the cleanup keep rising.)

(Update 5/24/10—Is it  feasible for the government to take the lead role in the cleanup from BP?)

(Update 5/24/10–Most Texans say they still support offshore drilling on the Gulf. I imagine they do support that rather than giving up the big trucks.)

(Update 5/25/10–The NY Times has report about the situation in Louisiana as oil hits the shore.)

(Update 5/25/10—There is disagreement in the Senate over to what extent BP should be liable for the spill. Republicans want to limit how much BP should have to pay.)

(Update 5/25/10—BP also had a part in the poor response to the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989.)

(Update 5/26/10—President Obama will hold a news conference on tomorrow. Here are five questions about the government’s handling of the spill that a Washington Post reporter thinks should be asked of the President.)

(Update 5/26/10—Here is how the Voice of America is reporting the so-called “Top Kill” effort to plug the leak.)

(Update 5/26/10—People are still staying at Gulf Coast hotels.)

(Update 5/26/10–Here is a 42 second video of an eel investigating the gusher of oil beneath the sea.)

(Update 5/26/10—Here is a report on the Top Kill as of 10 PM CDT.)

(Update 5/27/10–Rather than the 5,000 barrels a day we’ve been hearing for weeks, the leak has been 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day.)

(Update 5/27/10–The Coast Guard says that Top Kill is working.)

(Update 5/27/10–The public has questions about how the President has handled the spill.)

(Update 5/28/10—The flow of oil has been stopped for the time being. But it is not a given that this will last.)

(Update 5/28-10–President Obama is going to the Gulf Coast for a second time since the spill began.)

(Update 5/29/10--Scientists believe  there are large plumes of oil floating around under the sea.)

(Update 5/29/10–25% of the Gulf of Mexico is now closed to fishing.)

(Update 5/30/10–It may not be until August before the oil stops gushing.)

(Update 5/30/10—The White House is becoming more confrontational with BP.)

(Update 5/31/10–The British newspaper The Mirror says “Obama Furious at Oil Spill Hell.)

(Update 5/31/10–-Here is a review from CNN of where things stand at the moment.)

( Update 6/1/10—After the failure of Top Kill, Bp’s shares in London are at their lowest price since April of ’09.)

( Update 6/1/10–President Obama will be meeting today with his new oil spill prevention commission.)

(Update 6/2/10—Prices of BP shares continue to decline. )

( Update 6/2/10--The oil is advancing on Pensacola, Florida.)

(Update 6/3/10--This may not surprise you, but BP says they were not ready for this accident.)

(Update 6/3/10—A new permit has been allowed for offshore drilling within 50 miles of the Louisiana coast. This is a bit difficult for me to understand given the events of the moment.)

(Update 6/4/10—President Obama is putting off a trip to Asia to deal with the spill.)

(Update 6/4/10—They are getting ready for the oil in Florida.)

(Update 6/4/10–Laura Bush says President Obama should not be blamed for the spill.)

(Update 6/5/10–President Obama made his weekly five-minute address form the Louisiana coast. You can watch the speech from this Voice of America link. )

(Update 6/5/10—The Miami Herald has this story about “oil globs” washing up in Pensacola.)

(Update 6/5/10–Here is how The Age newspaper in Australia sees the threat to Florida poised by the oil spill.)

(Update 6/6/10–-Some are saying that BP in North America should be placed under temporary government control until this matter is resolved.

(Update 6/6/10—The President of BP says he will not quit over the spill.)

(Update 6/6/10–The Pensacola News-Journal says people are still going to the beach despite some oil at the beaches.)

(Update 6/7/10–Time magazine asks if the oil could reach Europe.)

(Update 6/7/10—This analyst says that the future of BP may be in doubt.)

( Update 6/7/10–People are concerned about the possible health effects of the oil spill. But these effects may not as bad as feared. )

(Update 6/8/10–-President Obama says the BP CEO should be fired.)

(Update 6/8/10–-The Toronto Star says that a spill such as the current one that took place in frozen Canadian  waters would be even more difficult to clean.)

(Update 6/9/10–The first signs have been posted on Florida beaches warning people about oil.)

(Update 6/9/10–BP share prices are at the lowest point in 14 years.)

(update 6/9/10—What public policy changes and what conservation measures by average folks would prevent another terrible spill?)

(Update 6/10/10–President Obama will be meeting today with families of the people who died in the rig explosion.)

(Update 6/10/10--Here are three audio accounts from the BBC of people in Louisiana  who have been impacted by the spill.)

(Update 6/10/10–Folks in Louisiana are upset with the slow pace that BP is paying out damage claims.)

(Update 6/11/10—British Prime Minister David Cameron will be discussing BP with President Obama tomorrow. There is pressure in Britain for the Prime Minister to defend BP)

(Update 6/11/10–Plans to burn the oil are raising health concerns.)

(Update 6/11/10–Here is how the Pensacola News-Journal is reporting the advancing oil.)

(Update 6/12//10–The price of shrimp is likely to rise.)

(Update 6/12/10—Florida has resisted offshore drilling, yet now they are being nailed by a huge spill.)

(Update 6/13/10—Some Folks in Britain feel they are being bashed.)

(Update 6/13/10—BP is putting some sensors around the leak to get a better sense of how much oil is being spewed. I’m glad they could finally get around to that.)

(Update 6/14/10—President Obama has compared the oil spill to 9/11 in some respects.)

(Update 6/14/10–BP may be punished by the U.S. government  with the loss of operation in the U.S.)

(Update 6/15/10—Oil company  chiefs are telling a House committee that the BP spill is an event not likely to be repeated. Sure.)

(Update 6/15/10–-Here is a list illustrating how the amount of oil said to be leaking has gone up and up and up since the disaster began.)

(Update 6/15/10—President Obama says the best way to help the Gulf is to come to the Gulf and spend money.)

(Update 6/16/10–This BBC report is about small coastal communities in Alabama dealing with the spill. The Mayor of one of these towns says domestic violence is up in his town as people face job losses.)

(Update 6/16/10–Here is how the Indian newspaper The Hindu reported the President’s speech.)

(Update 6/17/10—It  is not just the oil that needs to be cleaned up, it is the role of the money from big oil in our politics.)

(Update 6/17/10—Here is the video of the heckler removed the Tony Hayward testimony.)

(Update 6/18/10—BP CEO Tony Hayward went before Congress yesterday, but it is not clear that much was learned.)

(Update 6/18/10—Here is a quick round-up of where things stand with spill on the morning of June 18.)

(Update 6/19/10—Congressman Joe Barton of Texas seems to have gone into hiding since he apologized to BP.)

(Update 6/19/10– Congressman Barton’s views are not far from the views of the Republican Party. These folks do in fact feel that BP has been wronged.)

(Update 6/20/10—Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is under pressure from the White House to do a good job in handling the spill.)

(Update 6/20/10—The President’s Chief of Staff  said  today that Republican views in favor of BP are dangerous  for the American people. )

(Update 6/20/10-–BP had reason before the spill to know that the impact of  an incident such as this could be very severe. It does make seem to make the case that BP lied at first about how much oil was leaking.)

(Update 6/21/10–BP says the costs of dealing with the spill have reached $2 billion.)

(Update 6/21/10–Here is a story that attempts to  illustrate how much oil has spewed into the sea. From this story– “More not-so-dreadful context: The amount of oil spilled so far could only fill the cavernous New Orleans Superdome about one-seventh of the way up. On the other hand, it could fill 15 Washington Monuments. If the oil were poured on a football field — complete with endzones — it would measure nearly 100 yards high.There have been many large oil spills in the past.”)

(Update 6/23/10—Republicans will not demote Congressman Joe Barton from his high committee post for his apologizing to BP. If Republicans gain control of the House in 2010, Mr. Barton will be the main person in Houser on oil industry issues.)

(Update 6/23/10–Here is the latest on the spill as of  the afternoon of June 23.)

(Update 6/24/10–Here is the latest as of the morning of June 24.)

(Update 6/24/10–Despite all the trouble, Louisiana remains loyal to big oil and to underwater drilling.)

Here is a picture gallery of major oil spills from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

(Below–Growing up in New England, I recall the sinking of the tanker Argo Merchant off the coast of Massachusetts.)

Here is a list of the ten biggest oil spills ever.

Here is a Miami Herald Story from May 24 discussing oil spills that were as large or maybe even larger than the one we are seeing today.

While many look to learn about an issue when there is a big story in the news, it is always the right time to learn.

Here are some very useful facts on just what exactly oil is from the San Joaquin Geological Society.

Here is a list of the some of the things that oil is used for in our world.

Here is what is like to work on an offshore rig.

The University of Georgia Department of Marine Sciences has a blog on the spill.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has daily updates on the disaster.

Here is the blog of the Louisiana  Environmental Action Network.

Here is the live spillcam from PBS.

(Below–Mississippi River Delta without any oil cover.)

April 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Why I Watch Jaws Each Summer—The Chamber Of Commerce Would Tell You There Is No Shark Problem

Here are the reasons I watch the movie Jaws each summer.

1. I think it would be  nice to spend a summer in Long Island at some beach town.

2. I like looking at the ocean.

3. I like movies that involve sea creatures because I like sea creatures. Here is a recent press release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration about a program to restore the population of Blacknose Sharks. NOAA has great press releases about all sorts of ocean-related topics.

(Above–A Blacknose Shark. Here are some facts about Blacknose Sharks from the Florida Museum of Natural History.)

4. Because I’d rather see the movie many times than read the book again. I read Jaws by Peter Benchley a few years back. I figured that I would for once in my life read some mass-market beach-read type of book.

The book was awful. It was silly. There was some sort of plot line involving the mob or something like that. The book was not nearly as good as most of the novels I normally read. 

Call me a snob—I don’t care. I’ll call you back something in reply.

Here is an obituary of Peter Benchley. Sure he was a global best-selling author—But did he ever have a blog?

From the obit—

“It was while working as a freelance writer that he was invited to lunch by Tom Congdon, an editor at Doubleday, who asked if he had any ideas for a novel. In fact, he had. As he later described it, he said, “I’ve been thinking about a novel about a great white shark that appears off a Long Island resort and afflicts it.” The idea came from a news article he had read about a fisherman who caught a 4,500-pound great white shark off Long Island in 1964. Having spent many hours fishing off Nantucket with his father, he knew of sharks, and he believed he knew how to tell a story.”

 5. I like the part where the local Chamber of Commerce tells the police chief to keep the beaches open despite the shark attacks. The private sector is always making up some sort of story.

July 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Squid Attacks On Divers—Animals Right To Attack Humans Every Chance They Get

File:Dosidicus gigas.jpg

There have been a number of attacks on people by Humboldt Squid off the coast of California.

(Above–A Humboldt Squid. It hates you.)

Here is how it is reported in U.K’s Telegraph newspaper

From the Telegraph—

“The 5ft long creatures which can grow up to 100 pounds have been targeting scuba divers, yanking their cameras and clinging onto their wetsuits. The huge shoals of Humboldt squid have chased many veteran divers out of the water and are nicknamed el diablo rojo or red devils – for their rust-red colouring and aggressive behaviour. I wouldn’t go into the water with them for the same reason I wouldn’t walk into a pride of lions on the Serengeti,” said Mike Bear, a local diver. “For all I know, I’m missing the experience of a lifetime.”

It’s not surprising that sea creatures or any kind of creature would want to attack a human being. Human beings make the Earth a kind of hell for animals.  

Here is information from the American Institute for Biological Sciences about the ongoing massive wave of human-caused extinctions.

From the Institute–

“There is little doubt left in the minds of professional biologists that Earth is currently faced with a mounting loss of species that threatens to rival the five great mass extinctions of the geological past. As long ago as 1993, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson estimated that Earth is currently losing something on the order of 30,000 species per year — which breaks down to the even more daunting statistic of some three species per hour. Some biologists have begun to feel that this biodiversity crisis — this “Sixth Extinction” — is even more severe, and more imminent, than Wilson had supposed.

Look at this guy below with all those squid in his boat. That boat is a hell for squid.  

This story from the Times of London details the negative impact of climate change on Humboldt Squid.

Here are some facts about the Humboldt Squid from Squid-World.com.

From Squid-World.com–

“Also referred to as the jumbo squid, the Humboldt is one you do want to recognize. They aren’t as long as you would think with a name like that though. They only get to be about 7 feet long and weigh up to 100 pounds. They grow extremely fast though so those new offspring can get very large in a matter of months as long as they have enough food to nourish their bodies….They have the ability to change their colors from shades of red to shades of purple and then white as well. Some people used to believe this was for hiding but it is now believed it is for communication purposes. Due to the different colors the Humboldt squid is often misidentified.”

I eat meat. I’ve eaten squid. Animals eat animals. But there is a big difference between eating what you need to live, and the way human beings treat animals and treat the Earth. Given how we treat each other, is it little surprise that we abuse every creature and every aspect of nature that we possibly can.

I think it is time for animals to wise up and start hitting back.   

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July 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Captive Dolphin Is Named Liberty—If You Go To These Shows, Please At Least Learn Something About Dolphins And The Ocean

In this picture provided by Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Liberty, ...

The dolphin you see above is named “Liberty.”

It should be named “Prisoner” because it is in dolphin jail.

This dolphin prisoner lives at the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Park in Vallejo, California.

The dolphin is called Liberty because it was born on the Fourth of July.

Liberty, as seen in an Associated Press picture, was forced to do tricks on the Fourth of July for people visiting the park.    

Even though it lives its life in a tank, the dolphin is called Liberty as if it were free and swimming around in the ocean.

These shows would bug me less if I had any sense that they made people care about the creatures they see, or care about the health of the oceans.

I think people come and gawk at the dolphins and the Shamus and move on to some other thought as soon as they leave the park.

I know these shows are not going away, but if take your kids, or go on your own, please take some time to learn about what you are seeing.

Here are a number of questions about oceans answered by the National Ocean Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  There is a lot of information to be found at this site.

Here is a Christian Science Monitor blog post about overfishing and that has a number of links to other sources on the topic. The fish you are eating may be on the verge of going away for good.

Here is the EPA web home with programs meant to protect the nation’s salt water resources.

The Empty Ocean by Richard Ellis is a very good book about overfishing that I have read.

Below is a picture of a Bottlenose Dolphin in the ocean I’m going to name “Captive.” 

Here are facts about Bottlenose Dolphins.

Here are many facts about different types of whales and dolphins from NOAA.

The National Audubon Society Guide To Marine Mammals Of The World is a top rate book.

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July 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Reason I Disliked School & Notes On Art And Sharks

My in-laws are in town and I’m busy being a good son-in-law. This post will just be some notes. Still—even on busy days— I make time for the blog reading public.

At the Houston Museum of Fine Arts yesterday I got a reminder of why I disliked school so much. Some kids, maybe fifth or sixth grade, were on a field trip to the museum. They were touring the galleries. The chaperons were repeatedly telling the kids not to speak. I’m not sure if the adults were teachers or parents. Though it makes little difference. (Above— One room school in Alabama 1935.)

Why not instruct the kids to offer reactions to what they were seeing? Why not ask questions of the kids? Why not tell the kids to talk to each other about what they were seeing? Other visitors to the museum were speaking in the galleries. If the adults did not feel they could control the kids, then they should not have been leading the trip.

I can remember field trips like that when I was in school in Providence, Rhode Island. We’d go to the Boston Science Museum or the Boston Aquarium–over and over we would go to those places—and get no input from our teachers about what we were seeing.  The high point of the day would be the visit to the gift shop. It was just a day to screw around.  

If you have kids, maybe you could tell them to listen to teachers who have something to say, and tune out the others. There is possibly nothing at all wrong with a kid who does not like school and who is wary of his or her teachers. Maybe the only thing wrong with that kid is that he or she is smarter than the teachers and the other kids.   

 

At the art museum today I bought the book Movements In Art Since 1945 by Edward Lucie-Smith. It looks like a good book.  I’ve lately been wanting to learn about Alex Katz.Above – A sketch by Katz.)

The first paragraph of the book, as far as I’ve read so far, talks about contemporary art as more widely popular than was art before World War II. I would imagine that this wider popularity comes with the usual trade off  a bigger public following against a more uncertain level of quality. Depending on my mood, I’m generally in favor of the wider public acceptance. People can make the effort to find the good stuff if it matters to them enough.

I read yesterday that fishermen in the Philippines caught a very rare Megamouth Shark and went on to eat it even though they were asked not to eat the creature.  Below you see a picture of a Megamouth Shark. The picture was taken by a Tom Haight.   Here is  some very good information about this sea beast from the Florida Museum of Natural History. It says that Sperm Whales have been known to attack this type of shark. I’d sure like to put film of that taking place on the blog. 

Time now to go pick up my in-laws and go to the deli to pick up the food for Passover.

April 8, 2009 Posted by | Art, Books, Houston | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Giant Sea Worm

Above is the giant sea worm that has been caught at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, Great Britain.

I did not have any idea that a creature such as this existed on the Earth.

The sea worm was in a tank at the aquarium eating other creatures. Officials at the aquarium did not know that the creature was in the tank until the trouble started and the tank was searched. 

Here is a story on the worm. There is also a gallery of pictures you can click of giant sea creatures at the link.

I don’t like looking at that creature and it would scare me if I saw it in my bathtub or sink. Yet if it did appear in one of those places I could take a picture of it and blog traffic would spike for a few days from the novelty.

Here is the link to the Blue Reef Aquarium. 

Here is information on the city of Newquay.

Here is a story about sea worms that eat nothing but whale bones.

Here is some general information about sea worms. 

I know it’s possible you’ve come here off a search engine link about giant sea worms, and I’m glad you have, but there is a lot to know about the oceans than just strange creatures. Here is a good and accessible link to learn more about the oceans.   I have a great deal of confidence in the ability of average folks to learn things and it would be great if you’d check out this link or do some looking on your own about the oceans and different types of sea life.

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Sea Life, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Killer Whales Spotted In Gulf Of Mexico—Marine Mammal Reference Ideas

Killer Whales have been spotted in the Gulf of Mexico.

Below is a picture of killer whales seen in the Gulf of Mexico. Behind them you seen an oil rig which is pretty good evidence that you are looking at the Gulf of Mexico.

Here is information about the Gulf of Mexico.

Here is a link to YouTube video footage of killer whales in Texas waters.

Below is from the Houston Chronicle story on the killer whales

“Scientists say orcas have been in the Gulf for years but are rarely seen because they live far from shore and beyond the typical range of commercial fishermen. Still, a recent sighting of killer whales 95 miles off the Alabama coast has captivated those who work and play in the warm waters of the Gulf. “It was like being at Sea World because they’d come right up to the boat,” said Eddie Hall, captain of the Shady Lady, the charter boat that spotted as many as 200 orcas feeding on tuna. Hall recorded the close encounter on video, and the National Marine Fisheries Service confirmed that they were, indeed, killer whales. Tony Amos, a researcher with the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, said confirmed sightings of orcas in the Gulf date back to at least 1985.”

The guy in the Chronicle story said that it was just like Sea World. Yes–It was just like Sea World except that the whales were free and not in a kind of sea jail in the form of a (sort of ) big tank.

A killer whale is not a whale. It is a kind of dolphin. It is a very big killer dolphin. Its presence in the Gulf is not so much a surprise when you consider that it is the most widespread of any whale or dolphin. Here is some discussion of the differences between whales and dolphins.

Killer Whales can grow up to 30 feet long and live up to 90 years. Female killer whales can hang on for 80 to 90 years while males make it between 50 and 60.

A great book on marine mammals is the National Audubon Society’s Guide To Marine Mammals of the World(Books remain the stronger source on very many issues and questions than what you are able to find on the internet. Please consider getting off the computer and reading a book.)

Here is a bit of what the Audubon Guide says about killer whales—

“The world population of killer whales seems to consist of specialized subpopulation, each adapted to live off the resources available within its home range. In this sense killer whales are much like wolves.”

A book I don’t own but that maybe someday I will is The Marine Mammals of the Gulf of Mexico.

There are many types of marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico. Please click here for a list of such creatures.

The American Cetacean Society is a good on-line reference for marine mammals. You can find killer whale information at the ACS.

Here is the link to the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

March 30, 2009 Posted by | Books, Sea Life | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

First Ever Texas Liberal Video—I Have Confidence In You

Here is the first Texas Liberal video. I filmed it on Galveston’s East Beach a few days ago. It is just under 2 minutes long.

The video explains why I am making videos for the blog. The video expresses the idea that I have confidence in you because of the things that you and I have in common. 

Not in the video is the rotting dolphin carcass that was about 30 feet away from where I was standing.  At first look, people thought it was a seal carcass. Don’t folks know that the only seal ever to come near Galveston was the now-extinct Caribbean Monk Seal? (Below) This was the only seal native to the Gulf of Mexico.

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Why do you think that people must drive big pickups onto the beach and motor around in circles? I’d like people to please know that I kept my eye on the camera despite these trucks, the dolphin carcass, the many bulldozers replenishing the beach with sand after last year’s Hurricane Ike, and people feeding seagulls out of moving cars as the seagulls followed the cars in noisy flocks.  

Thank you for reading this blog and for watching the video.

March 2, 2009 Posted by | Galveston, Sea Life, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

How Tuna Is “Farmed”

The following is from a series of articles about the oceans prepared by The Economist magazine 

“Perhaps the most grotesque form of fish farming is the ranching of bluefin tuna, a delicacy that may sell for as much as $860 a kilo. Bluefins are sensitive creatures that hate being cooped up so much that, if confined, they tend to throw themselves against their cages and break their necks. Australian “ranchers” have now adopted a technique that involves catching young bluefins, enveloping them in a huge net and dragging it slowly round the south seas for months while feeding them pilchards imported from west Africa.”

I eat tuna and I don’t ask many questions about how it reaches my plate. But is this how we want to proceed? We’ve overfished the seas and now this is how we are getting our fish to eat. How can this be sustainable? We’re seeing in our economy what happens when we proceed in a way that is not sustainable. How many times do we need to learn (or not learn) the same lessons?     

Here is information about the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna. (above)

Here is information about various types of seafood and to what extent they are overfished.

Here is information about overfishing in the United States from Mother Jones magazine.

January 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fishing Boat Picture & Sunday Links

Along with a picture of a fishing boat I took in Corpus Christi, Texas earlier this year, here are some quick Sunday links. 

Overfishing is a global problem says Greenpeace.

Fish Farming is helping people get enough to eat in the nation of Malawi.

Here is information on Malawi.

Fire fighters in Scotland looked for an escaped hamster.

Hamster prices have shot up in China.

A Houston Chronicle poll suggests Democrats will do well in Harris County on Election Day.  

Pollster.com continues to see Senator Obama with a strong national lead.

Here is information on visiting Corpus Christi.

Corpus Christi is a nice place to spend a weekend.

Have a great week ahead and thank you for reading Texas Liberal.

October 26, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Sea Life, Texas | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Navy Wants To Keep Terrorizing Whales With Sonar Blasts

The Supreme Court today heard a case about Navy testing of sonar that may well harm and kill whales and dolphins.

At the moment, these tests off the coast of California are banned by federal court order.

Environmental groups say these sonar blasts sound as loud as a jet engine to whales and dolphins. The Navy says the tests are needed for national security. 

Beyond these issues, the core of the matter seems to be whether the a judge can order the Navy to stop the tests because no environmental impact study has been done by the Navy. The case has implications beyond this specific concern.

Why can’t the Navy just do the study?

I think what we should do is extensively test just how the sonar bombardments sound to whales, and then recreate that noise for Naval test subjects. Maybe some in Navy could volunteer unlike the whales who have no choice in the matter. ( Though I bet that not many would volunteer to have their ears blasted out.)The test subjects could then report just how it sounded and we could make a judgement from that point. 

This National Geographic story discusses possible harm done to Killer Whales because of Navy sonar tests.

And this National Geographic story says whales can be given the bends by such tests.

Here is some good information about many different types of whales.

Here is some history of the Supreme Court. 

October 9, 2008 Posted by | Sea Life | , , , , | Leave a comment

Dolphin Teaches Other Dolphins How To “Tail-Walk” on Water

Tail-walking dolphin
The BBC reports that a dolphin in Australia is teaching other dolphins how to “tail-walk” on water.
 
Above is a picture of one one of the tail walking dolphins. This behavior may have been learned from a brief time the dolphin doing the teaching spent in a marine park.
 
I’d sure like to see that in Galveston Bay some day.
 
Do you think the dolphin teaching the other dolphins is a show-off. Or do you think it is some sort of power grab in the dolphin hierarchy?
 
It could though be an act of kindess or just good fun.
 
 
Don’t you wish sometimes that people could pick up stuff so easily? The real trick though would be if dolphins could teach people this stunt.
From the BBC story–

A wild dolphin is apparently teaching other members of her group to walk on their tails, a behaviour usually seen only after training in captivity. The tail-walking group lives along the south Australian coast near Adelaide.  One of them spent a short time after illness in a dolphinarium 20 years ago and may have picked up the trick there.

Scientists studying the group say tail-walk tuition has not been seen before, and suggest the habit may emerge as a form of “culture” among this group.  “We can’t for the life of us work out why they do it,” said Mike Bossley from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS), one of the scientists who have been monitoring the group on the Port River estuary. “We’re doing systematic observations now to determine if there’s something that may trigger it, but so far we haven’t found anything,” he told BBC News.

In the 1980s, Billie, one of the females in the group, spent a few weeks in a local dolphinarium recovering from malnutrition and sickness, a consequence of having been trapped in a marina lock. She received no training there, but may have seen others tail-walking.

Now, other females in the group have picked up the habit. It is seen rarely in the wild, and the obvious inference is that they have learned it from Billie.  “This indicates that they do learn from each other, which is not a surprise really, but it does also seem that they exhibit elements of what in humans we would call ‘cultural’ behaviour,” said Dr Bossley.

“These are things that groups develop and are passed between individuals and that come to define those groups, such as language or dancing; and it would seem that among the Port River dolphins we may have an incipient tail-walking culture.” The “cultural” transmission of ideas and skills has been documented in apes, while dolphins off the coast of Western Australia are known to teach their young to use sponges as an aid when gathering food.

August 27, 2008 Posted by | Sea Life | , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Driving To Galveston Blindfolded, Using Dolphin-Like Echolocation To Navigate

I’m going to drive 50 miles south today to take a walk along the Gulf of Mexico in fabulous Galveston, Texas.

In an effort to bond with dolphins in Galveston Bay, I’m going to blindfold myself and drive to Galveston using echolocation. Echolocation is one way dolphins find fish in murky waters. 

While I don’t have the dolphin anatomy you see in the above illustration, I’ve been practicing some of the skills involved. Just a few weeks ago, I shut my eyes and walked successfully from the dinner table to the couch. At that point I had to open my eyes because I wanted to watch the TV.

Having mastered that walk, I feel I’m now ready for the blindfolded drive to Galveston. I’m hoping at some point to be able to communicate with dolphins. (Please click here for my post on commuincating with zebra mussels.)

Better that I speak to the dolphins— I’m also practicing my sonar clicks— than somebody with a more evil plan.

Once reaching Galveston, I’ll be keeping my eyes open in case I see a mermaid. I’ll have my digital camera because blog traffic would spike if I could get a picture of a mermaid.

August 1, 2008 Posted by | Galveston, Sea Life | , , , , | 2 Comments

Despite Toxic Fish Warning, Galveston Is A Great Place To Visit

I feel a bit like the chamber of commerce folks in Jaws who denied any shark problem, but despite a toxic fish warning for Galveston Bay, Galveston, Texas is still a great place to spend a day.

You don’t have to flee the beach as are the people in the picture. Just be careful what you eat if you go fishing.

Galveston is what it is. A place to take a walk, get lunch, ride the free Bolivar Ferry, learn some history and do some shopping. There is enough to do for at least one day. You could spend the night as well and not run out of stuff to do the next day.

Many people in Houston are snobby about Galveston. Yet I’m not aware of anywhere else in this area you can take a nice walk on the beach. Going in the water is another matter. But I’m scared of the jellyfish anyway, so that does worry me much.

Here is a link to some of the many things to see in Galveston.

Below is a nice Galveston sunset.

July 9, 2008 Posted by | Galveston, History, Houston, Sea Life | , , , | Leave a comment

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