Six months ago today, BP's Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and launching the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history as more than 206 million gallons of oil spilled into this fragile ecosystem.
More than 6,800 birds, sea turtles, dolphins and marine mammals were killed in the BP spill. Thousands more were harmed, and the legacy of the spill will continue impacting the environment for decades to come. For a reality check: Twenty-one years after the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil -- about 5 percent of BP's spill -- in Alaska's Prince William Sound, oil continues to affect marine and coastal environments and can be found by simply digging into the sand there.
More bad news: This week, Interior Secretary Salazar lifted the deepwater drilling moratorium, an action that's clearly premature. Rather than the nation rushing to return to business as usual, we should put all new deep and shallow water offshore drilling on hold until industry and government can prove that it's safe. The price is simply too high, and the risks too great, to move ahead with any offshore drilling without addressing these fundamental dangers.
Now for some good news. Our research vessel, The Odyssey has been in the Gulf for the past 3 months and we have collected over 50 tissue samples from sperm, brydes, and humpback whales. We have samples from 43 different species of fish. We have water samples, sediment samples, air samples, krill samples, many other invertebrate samples, dolphin blow samples, parasite samples, acoustic data, videos, and photos.
Our work has just begun as we now head back to the lab to analyze all our data to determine the baseline contaminate load for the Gulf and its creatures. With your continued support, we plan to return to the Gulf over the next decade to document what happens there and to continue this critical work. We thank you all for your support!
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