Like anyone with a heart, I’ve been saddened and outraged by the images of oil-covered birds and turtles from the Gulf. As a diver, I was concerned from the start about the potential effects of the oil and dispersant on the life we land-dwellers can’t see — the life teaming deep beneath the surface.
Recently, I put together a reading list for World Oceans Day. Of the dozen books listed, two were by Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and former chief scientist with the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration.
Two out of a dozen apparently wasn’t good enough for Earle’s daughter, Gale Mead, who suggested adding her mother’s most recent book, The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One. On a whim, I did a search for Mead. I was delighted by what I found. Not only is Mead an explorer in her own right, she’s also a talented musician with a wonderful CD titled Common Good that’s filled with as much passion and life as a coral reef. And, it turned out, Mead had filmed the first — and only — glimpse of the bountiful life on a seamount off the Louisiana coast. Unfortunately, that spot is just sixteen miles from where, eight years later, the BP Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 and spewing millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
The OnEarth Video
I contacted Mead and she readily agreed to do an over-the-phone interview/narration of her 2002 dive, including her assessment of the threat posed to this unique ecosystem by oil and chemical dispersants. The resulting video was produced for OnEarth magazine, a part of that publication’s continuing coverage of the Gulf disaster.