Written by Jack Rudloe, Gulf Specimen Marine Lab Tuesday, 08 June 2010 10:39
Dear Friends of Gulf Specimen:
The impacts of the Deep Horizon Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will last many years, whether it’s from walking on oil soaked beaches or no longer enjoying the sights and sounds of sea birds.There are gloomy predictions that recreational and commercial fishing may become a thing of the past. We need your help and we need it now. The oil is coming and we’re fighting for the environment, the lab, and our lives. Gulf Specimen Marine Lab is a 501 (c) 3 tax exempt organization. Please contribute, see our website: www.gulfspecimen.org and click the donate button and then read about our nearly fifty years of history.
The BP oil spill and its toxic dispersants will denude the Gulf of life. Operation Noah’s Ark, a project that we are proposing, will help restore marine life and rebuild the fishing industry. First shrimp will be grown from the egg to a juvenile in the hatcheries. Then after the sea is no longer polluted with oil the shrimp will be released into the sea and fishermen will be able to harvest them. Finding areas where the sea is not contaminated will be the challenge. Releasing captive raised juvenile shrimp, crabs and oysters into the bays will jump start the food chain. This will bolster fisheries and the economy.
Gulf Specimen Marine laboratory is asking BP, state and federal governments to provide funds for the retrofitting of its lab facilities and a nearby closed shrimp hatchery so we can hold a wide variety of marine life for an extended period of time. BUT WE ARE BEING IGNORED! Before the oil hits the lab must sever its connection with the sea or its tanks will be poisoned. We must then function like more costly inland aquariums such as Sea World or the Georgia Aquarium that use artificial sea salts and massive filtration. Using closed system technology is not new or experimental. Shrimp are being grown for food in green houses in Arizona, Maryland and other locations far from the sea. What makes Operation Noah’s Ark unique is that instead of going to the cooking pot, the shrimp will be released back into the sea. We came up with this idea a year ago and described it in our book, “Shrimp, the Endless Quest for Pink Gold.”
China, Japan, Australia, and Cuba are already using hatchery technology to grow larvae and then are releasing them into the sea so that fishermen can catch them. No one can say for sure whether all the millions of baby shrimp make a difference or just fatten fish. In this country skeptics insist that putting shrimp in the sea is like carrying coals to Newcastle.
Would the shrimp born in hatchery tanks be suitable to release into the sea and still survive? Would the multibillion dollar recreational fishery world improve? In Cuba and China, biologists claim that their commercial yields have increased by 50 percent since they began releasing hatchery-raised juvenile shrimp. The U.S. government has been raising and releasing striped bass and red drum for generations. We need a new vision. Perhaps one day the pollution will be stopped and the oceans managed in a way that preserves marine life and benefits humankind… If the oceans are dying, as so many marine scientists are reporting, a more long-range vision is required.
Operation Noah’s Ark plans to further clean the sea by installing “LivingDock” artificial habitats which are fiberglass structures that resemble reefs. Designed to grow barnacles, oysters, sea squirts and other fouling growth they filter and cleanse the water of excess bacteria that often builds up after an oil spill. Developed by Mike Callinski of the Ocean Restoration Corporation and Associates in Captive Island, Florida, the LivingDock habitats (named after my book, “The Living Dock”) have also effectively raised stone crabs, blue crabs and spiny lobsters in their artificial habitats located in the Florida Keys.
If Gulf Specimen Marine Lab perishes from the forthcoming oil pollution none of this will happen. The oil is advancing eastward on a path that will bring it into Apalachee Bay where endangered Kemp’s ridleys, wood storks, and the unique Hurricane Fish abounds. We fear it will destroy our fifty years of hard work building the marine lab that serves to educate children, provide specimens for biomedical research and education, and is an institution where students and scientists alike come to study. So please help.
We are working against the clock trying to restore a submerged sea water pipeline that once ran into a closed down shrimp farm at the head of Dickerson Bay. We hope to store a hundred thousand gallons of “healthy sea water” before the oil drifts into Apalachee Bay and kills the marshes, the giant herds of fiddler crabs, and the myriad of other species that live there. Slogging through mud, swatting yellow flies and watching for alligators and bull sharks, we are trying to remain optimistic and remember the conclusion of our book, “Shrimp, the Endless Quest for Pink Gold.”
We need a vision in which the tragedy of the commons gives way to recognition that the future of every human being is linked to the well-being of every other human being. Some would claim that the global cooperation necessary to achieve that goal is beyond the reach of human nature. But looming global-scale environmental crises will force us all to once again confront what Benjamin Franklin said in another time of great challenge: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” A time of great crisis is also a time of great opportunity — a chance to make big changes that cannot be accomplished in more ordinary times.
Jack and Anne Rudloe
Gulf Specimen Marine Lab
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