One objective for David Lee on his June cruise through the eastern Gulf aboard the R/V F. G. Walton Smith was to evaluate the condition of Sargassum followingthe Deepwater Horizon spill. His findings were well beyond troubling. Although petroleum hydrocarbon residues are often found in trace amounts in Sargassum and its larger associated fauna (after all, both oil and the alga collect into patches from the same currents), what Dave encountered was more like the Black Death. Nothing could live in the noxious stew of oil and alga that he found.
Each day that oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico should serve as one more nail in the coffin of dirty fossil fuels. Each wave that brings thick crude upon formerly pristine beaches, each pelican that struggles to spread its oil-coated wings, each fisherman who wonders how he’ll feed his family now that his livelihood has been compromised.
Today, the “Daddy’s Home” family considers their vacation alternatives… Going to an amusement park or helping wildlife in the Gulf? We say, “No contest!”
This week, the characters from the syndicated comic strip, “Daddy’s Home” decide to spend their holiday volunteering in the Gulf of Mexico. Electing to help with the oil spill clean—up instead of going on a “normal” vacation–the family finds itself cleaning oil stricken birds there.
Strip creator Tony Rubino says, “My point is not whether we should or shouldn’t be cleaning the birds, as opinions differ on this (though not if you ask the birds). The real point is that we can all do SOMETHING and that ‘something’ is up to the individual.”
Sargassum is a seaweed that, when densely concentrated, functions as a biological oasis throughout the nutrient-poor, almost desert-like surface waters of the deeper stretches of the Gulf of Mexico. Much like a terrestrial oasis, the plants form the foundation of this unique ecosystem. Because of its significant role in providing food and shelter, marine scientists are paying close attention to Sargassum in the Gulf in order to assess the harm wrought by toxic oil spewing from the Deepwater Horizon spill.