Operation Toxic Gulf 2014 Launches Today

A special announcement from Ocean Alliance CEO Iain Kerr:

The Research Vessel Odyssey heads back into the Gulf of Mexico for a fifth season today.

I’ve spent the last two weeks with a remarkable international crew aboard the Odyssey prepping for our fifth summer of data and sample collection in the Gulf of Mexico—our joint campaign with Sea Shepherd Conservation SocietyOperation Toxic Gulf .  The crew represent six countries: Australia, Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Spain and the USA.

For many, the 2010 Gulf disaster is just a distant memory, but for Gulf residents and wildlife the legacy lives on, more often than not in the abyss.  Ocean ecosystems are so complex and intertwined that it’s hard to link events with consequences. However, common sense can give you a good start on that long journey.  When you have an oil well blow-out and release over 200 million gallons of oil, and the slick it creates gets treated with an unprecedented 2 million+ gallons of dispersants, I cannot imagine how reason can lead you to conclude that there will not be significant consequences, especially when the effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster are still being felt in Alaska 25 years after it occurred.

Roger Payne with Oil RigThe vast majority of humanity seems to love whales–they are a big part of human culture and ocean ecosystems.  I just can’t understand then how or why the consequences of the BP spill on the Gulf of Mexico whales seem to have been pretty much forgotten.  There are over 20 species of whales resident in the Gulf of Mexico and half a dozen that visit the Gulf (such as the blue whale, the largest animal this planet has ever produced).  As we continue to collect data and work with our scientific partners from the Wise Laboratory of Environmental & Genetic Toxicology to publish papers we will work harder this year to get the story out on the diverse collection of whales that live in the Gulf. You will hear stories from all of us, crew-members as well as scientists, as the voyage unfolds.  During our campaign we will be visiting Gulf ports and will be opening the RV Odyssey for ship tours, check our Facebook page for times and locations. You can also follow us on Twitter for updates and you can track the Odyssey here.

Sea Shepherd flagOcean Alliance President Roger Payne and I are very excited to be heading out into the Gulf along with crew members from Sea Shepherd. We could not have returned to the Gulf without the broad support Sea Shepherd has offered so we are most grateful to them.

We are celebrating the fact that this will be our fifth consecutive summer in the Gulf but we are sad knowing that we will be leaving this amazing ecosystem at the end of the summer. We will give it our all and we thank all of you who have helped us make this study possible thus far.

I hope that you will join us in wishing the campaign fair winds and following seas!Odyssey in the Gulf of Mexico