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August 19, 2010

Inside the bowels of the beast

BY: Xavier Pastor


© OCEANA / Eduardo Sorensen


Today we spent the whole day sailing around the Mississippi Delta in order to reach Grand Isle in Louisiana. It is at the western part of the mouth of this emblematic river. The Mississippi, that gives life, history, music and literature, has at the same time, during too many decades, been the sewer for a vast expanse of the United States from North to South. Now, its delta has also been attacked from the sea by the oil spilled by BP. From the outset of last night, and while we were approaching the eastern end of the delta, the Oceana Latitude’s radar began showing tens of little points that later turned into hundreds of echoes on the screen. Each one corresponded to an oil rig. In many cases, in the sky, we could see the reflection of the rigs’ flames that were burning their combustion gases. Some of them looked like floating hotels with a big display of lights. As it dawned, we started to realize that we were sailing amid hundreds of the Deep Sea Horizon’s sisters. At one point, we came less than five miles from the location of the destroyed rig. That makes you reflect that what should be a surprise is not that a catastrophe occurred on the BP rig. The strange thing is that a similar debacle has not occurred in the last few years on any of the thousands of platforms that surround it. It is simply like a sinister lottery. It had to happen, like it happened on the Mexican rig IXTOC in 1979. And it will happen again. In the Gulf of Mexico, in Alaska, in Belize, in the Mediterranean… wherever a series of circumstances crop up again. I think it would be very interesting that those who oppose marine wind turbines should be here today and tell us what they think about what we are seeing. According to them, “they are an eyesore” and “bother fishermen”. Nonetheless, they want to continue using appliances and driving around in cars.

During last night’s voyage, we were able to see and photograph, by the way, several prawn trawlers in the area that is still . Because of the distance and the darkness, we were unable to confirm whether the fishing boats had nets in the water, but it is legitimate to wonder what fishing boats are doing in the middle of the night in the vast prohibited area.