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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Subsurface Investigations

Lowandbehold rockandrollas!

I can see more clearly now. I have had an opportunity to dive beneath the bullshit that lives on the surface.  The truth of the matter is that the ocean has taken a massive hit.  A sucker punch straight to the neck.  But she is strong, she is gorgeous and proud, and with a little support and intervention, she can get back on her feet; with some active retaliation, she may be able to thrive again.  To regain her glory and her confidence.  It is essential...without her, were all goners.  Her fate will remain to be seen.., depending upon how many jump in to kick her when she is down, or how many jump in to come to her rescue.

I jumped in yesterday, and went scuba diving on an exxon/mobil oil rig out of southwest pass, offshore of Venice, Louisiana.  These rigs, aside from being the bastards that rape the ocean, also strangely enough, provide structure to create an artificial reef system.  Corals and barnacles attach to the pilings of the rig, and provide some habitat and shelter for the ecosystems of the Gulf.  This was the first time that I have dove in the Gulf of Mexico, and the first time that I have dove an oil rig, though I have well over 500 dives under my belt.  So truth is, I don't really have any thing in my repertoire to compare this dive to, nor a baseline to judge it against.  But I do have to say, that I was quite shocked at the amount of sea life swirling in and around the rig.  I half expected everything to be dead or dying.

The first 15-20 feet were a brackish murky green/brown layer of freshwater, as it sits on top of saltwater. Freshwater is less dense than saltwater, and therefore floats on top.  There is typically a layer of freshwater in this vicinity due to it's proximity to the Mississippi River.  This year in particular they released a lot more water out of the mouth of the Mississippi, to create a flushing effect, and push the oil back away from the shoreline and wetlands as much as possible. This is not without it's own set of problems. But I digress...  As always in this fiasco, there was a layer of surface shit to excavate, before the blinders come off.

Once beyond the 20 ft mark, I began to see the structure of the rig unfolding before me, and was immediately entranced by a blacktip reef shark. Most of you know that I have a real fond affinity for sharks!  Damn, it was good to see him!  I followed him as quickly as I could to a depth of about 70 ft, till Cap'n Al started banging on his tank to hail me back in.  I reluctantly turned around and made my way back up toward 50 ft.  We proceeded through the rigging and observed a good amount of fish life, a couple a barracudas, and ah! At last! A Kemp's Ridley sea turtle!  My first sighting in the gulf. She appeared to be healthy and was zooming around, looking cute as a button.

As it became time to surface we had to levitate through the shit layer to come back to the real world. I took a few moments on my safety stop to observe the sediment, and other strange detritus floating in the brackish layer.  I noticed traces of oil and some dispersant looming in the water table.  I felt a minor irritation on my skin, and surfaced with a small headache, but both quickly passed, and I feel fine. 

Cap'n Al and Scott Porter, both local hardcore divers, informed me that they typically would see a lot more turtles on this dive site, and that the sea life and reef have suffered a pretty large blow, but they are noticing a marked increase in water clarity.  ...If not water quality.  We took several samples of the water, and I am anxious to send them off for analysis.

Isn't it funny how I'm starting to sound more like a scientist, hanging out with these dudes all the time?!  Don't you worry!  I'll be back to my ol' swagger in no time, because my main homey Dr. Chris Pincetich, lead turtle biologist and organizer of this stage of the mission has got to return to Cali tomorrow and start applying his findings.  I'm gonna miss him alot.  I have learned a ton from him, and will carry the torch in his honor.

Thanks for listening.  Your support means everything to me.  Try to find new ways to use less fuel, and cut plastics out of your daily routine.  There is always an alternative, it may not be the most convenient, but it is worth it.  This is how we come to ma oceans rescue!

 ~ If we were logical, the future would be bleak, indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work. ~ Jaques Cousteau
Everything worth anything lives beneath the surface.  

Love, Brock

Sent from my edge of the Revolution!

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Monday, August 23, 2010

What lies beneath?

Man oh man.  Well, we found oil out there guys.  But we didn't find any sea turtles. ...Yet.

As we left the mouth of the Mississippi river to head out into the gulf, we fell in behind a rather large cargo ship.  I'd say it's propeller was churning at a depth of about 20 feet.  Directly in it's wake was a trail of brown sludge that totally freaked all of us out.  The best explanation is that there was a pocket of subsurface oil that was being drawn up in the ships prop wash.  Wow!  Again, as always in this fiasco, there is something devastating hidden just beneath the surface layer. All it takes to reveal it, is a bit of churning, a bit of investigation.

A bit further out we ran across a frothy snot line of dispersed oil. It was really weird to behold, guys.  This is the stuff that will give me nightmares.  As I have told you before, the oil is toxic, the dispersant is toxic, but when combined the toxicity increases exponentially.  You may remember the video I posted earlier of the sample of seawater, crude oil, and dispersant exploding the test tube that contained it.  Combustible!  I wonder what it would do to the soft tissue surrounding a turtles mouth, or a dolphins blowhole?  Or Obama's kids?

Not to far away from this site, we encountered a pod of extremely friendly dolphins. The good news is they seemed quite healthy and happy.  I am really hoping they steer clear of the snot line!

Aside form the disappointment of not encountering a single sea turtle, the most devastating information came from a conversation with my main man, Cap'n Al Walker.  You may remember him the from earlier posts.., he was the dude that finally finagled the go ahead out of bp to assemble the turtle rescue navy. His plan was to start with five boats, and then ramp up to twenty.  As he embarked on this process, he was directed to interact with a makeshift board of directors and phd's.  They were placed in charge of the funding and resources that Al needed to make his mission possible.  Somehow they decided that the best use of these resources was to put together one boat comprised of the "right" people.  For fux sake, you already know my position on this!  We need every single possible boat in the water.  We need every pair of able hands getting dirty.  We need every mind working on possible solutions.  And we need everybody involved.  We need to do our best to find and rescue endangered wildlife.  Bad news is, it might be to late.  One boat?  Give me a break!

The good news is Capn Al's a scrapper, and he is not willing to give up without a fight.  He wants to take down the people that have impeded his attempts to save the lil dudes.  He wants to bring to light the willful murder of hundreds and hundreds of sea turtles. All because a board of directors didn't want to ration out and share the contracts and funding to make rescue viable.  He wants to sue these people so they can never be held as credible in a position like this again.  I'll tell you what, Ive got his back, and I hope you do too.  People like Al are the true coast guardians.  It doesn't take a blue uniform. Will you guard our coasts?  Pretty please?     

Mad love, Brock

Sent from my edge of the Revolution!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Back in the ring. Ding ding!

Top o the morning to you, amigos!

Well here I am, back in the saddle, riding down to Venice, Louisiana.  It has been a wild ride to get back down into the thick of things, but I made it, thanks to you guys! ...And the support of the yoga community at large. Awesome!  I really can't thank you enough for getting involved.  It is such an important time, as the media and the government tells us that the spill is over, all is well.  Move along.  (Cough, cough, bullshit.).

I promise to tell you the truth, and nothin' but the truth, as I see it.

I have been so lucky to make some fine alliances.  Team turtle now is comprised of oceanic ambassadors from all walks of life!  We have turtle biologists, boat captains, an airplane pilot, a navigation company, yogis, and activists.  Most importantly we have you!  

Yesterday, was my first opportunity to get back on the water.  We cruised Barataria Bay. I had an opportunity to see Pelican Isle, and the degradation of our fine feathered friends habitat.  I met a pod of super enthusiastic and sweet dolphins.  Luckily, they seemed pretty healthy. I got a chance to see oil in the marshlands, on the grasses and on the shoreline.  As we got in close to the barrier islands, the boat prop churned up some mud bottom, which also churned oil and brought it to the surface!  That was interesting to me, and this is our mission. Bringing the truth to light.

Today, we get to focus on the motivating factor of this mission.  We get to go offshore, and search for sea turtles!  Yes!  I have been waiting, for what feels like my entire life, for this day.  I'm excited!

I will let you know how it goes.  I'll send you some pictures and all that jazz later... but I just wanted to break radio silence, let you know I am back on the scene.  Wish me luck!  Time to get on the boat!