What about the whales? »

Sperm whales, which can weigh up to 60 tons and reach 60 feet in length, reside year-round in the Gulf of Mexico. Their strong attraction to specific areas for breeding and feeding may override any tendency for them to avoid noxious oil, and several whales have already been spotted swimming through oily, contaminated waters.

The impossible conundrum »

It’s 100+ degrees in the Fort Jackson wildlife rehabilitation center, sweat is pouring down my face and back as I peer under the mesh cover of the pelican pen. Thirteen birds, all cloaked in burnt-orange oil, huddle in one corner of the pen. They are shivering.

Hurricane Katrina ate all the road signs in New Orleans »

Last night was not the first time we got lost, but it was the worst time. We ended up at the edge of a dark Louisiana graveyard with towering monuments to the bayou’s wealthy dead. At midnight, after a day on a boat in the humid soup of the Gulf surrounded by brown pelicans turned black and orange with oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon, we would have preferred night demons torturing us in our sleep to an endless drive around unknown stretches of the city. But there we were. We were all being patient, kind, (did I mention patient?) strenuously patient, but so, so, tired.