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Jacques Cousteau Would Weep Salty Tears

By Susan Carey Dempsey on June 11, 2010One Comment
Picture of Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
Image via Wikipedia

As much as I heartily applaud the commemorative events taking place today in recognition of Jacques Cousteau’s 100th birthday, I cannot imagine a sadder environment in which to observe that milestone. As the official estimates of oil fouling the Gulf of Mexico are announced to be double what was previously stated, the evidence of its impact reaches far into Louisiana’s wetlands and washes up on Florida beaches.  Our understanding of the ocean ecology, so heightened by Cousteau’s vivid underwater explorations, still leaves most observers struggling to comprehend how this environmental nightmare will end – and how many generations hence.

According to the new estimate from a government panel, called the Flow Rate Technical Group, 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day have been spewing from the well drilled a mile below the surface. That range, which may yet prove to be low, is far above the previous estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day.

Earlier this week, World Oceans Day was celebrated around the world, in events ranging from a sea turtle conservation trip in Costa Rica to a coastal cleanup in Cape Town, South Africa. The sponsoring organization, the Ocean Project, includes in its mission “speaking out and taking action for our world’s ocean, its life, and the future generations who will inherit it.”

Jacques Cousteau’s grandson Fabien launched a new project this week as well, in waters off New York City. His organization, Plant a Fish, along with the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, “re-planted” oysters off Governors Island as its initial project. Additional projects planned to revive aquatic life include “re-planting” sea turtles in El Salvador, mangroves in South Florida, and corals in the Maldives.

Although opinions differ about the role of philanthropy in addressing this catastrophe, thousands of volunteers have signed up or embarked on treks to clean the beaches and help save the wildlife scourged by the oil. Frustrating to many is the fact that there are not specific roles for everyone who is anxious to help. If you find yourself wishing there were ways to address this crisis, you might visit the World Oceans Day site and see how you can do your part.

Merci, Jacques.

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