2 years later, fish sick near BP oil spill site – Yahoo! News

Apr 19
Posted by leafworks Filed in Environmentalism, Health and Diet, Life on the Sea

BARATARIA BAY, La. (AP) — Two years after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, touching off the worst offshore spill in U.S. history, research into the disaster's environmental effects is turning up ailing fish that bear hallmarks of diseases tied to petroleum and other pollutants.

Those illnesses don't pose an increased health threat to humans, scientists say, but the problems could be devastating to prized species such as grouper and red snapper, and to the people who make their living catching them.

There's no saying for sure what's causing the diseases in what's still a relatively small percentage of the fish, because the scientists have no baseline data on sick fish in the Gulf from before the spill to form a frame of reference. The first comprehensive research may be years from publication. And the Gulf is assaulted with all kinds of contaminants every day.

Still, it's clear to fishermen and researchers alike that something's amiss.

— A recent batch of test results revealed the presence of oil in the bile extracted from fish caught in August 2011, a year after BP's broken well was capped and nearly 15 months after it first blew out on April 20, 2010, leading to the rig explosion that killed 11 men.

"Bile tells you what a fish's last meal was," said Steve Murawski, a marine biologist with the University of South Florida who was chief science adviser for the National Marine Fisheries Service until November 2010 when he began working on oil spill studies for USF. "There was as late as August of last year an oil source out there that some of those animals were consuming."

Bile in red snapper, yellow-edge grouper and a few other species contained on average 125 parts per million of naphthalene, a compound found in crude oil, Murawski said. Scientists expect to find almost none of the toxin in fish captured in the open ocean.

"Those levels are indicative of polluted urban estuaries," he said.

— Last summer, a team of scientists led by USF conducted what experts say is the most extensive study yet of sick fish in shallow and deep Gulf waters. Over seven cruises in July and August, the scientists caught about 4,000 fish — from Florida's Dry Tortugas to central Louisiana — using miles-long fishing lines dragged from close to shore out to depths of 600 feet. The work was funded with a federal government grant and help from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

About 3 percent of the fish they caught displayed gashes, ulcers and parasites symptomatic of environmental contamination, according to Murawski, the lead researcher. The number of sick fish rose not only as scientists moved west away from the relatively clean and oil-free waters of Florida but also as they pushed into deeper waters off the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi and especially Louisiana, near where the Deepwater Horizon sank.

About 10 percent of mud-dwelling tile fish caught in the DeSoto Canyon, to the northeast of the well, showed signs of sickness.

"The closer to the oil rig, the higher frequency was" of sick fish, Murawski said.

Past studies off the Atlantic Seaboard found about 1 percent of fish suffering from diseases, Murawski said. For now, he's taking that as a historical reference point; but he says it's not possible to directly apply that baseline to the Gulf, which is warmer and because of that an incubator for bacteria and parasites that could be the cause of lesions and sicknesses. Other important differences are that oil and natural gas have been pouring out of fissures from the floor of the Gulf for centuries, and the muddy waters of the Mississippi River flush into the same spots where scientists and fishermen are finding sick fish.

— Laboratory work over the past winter on the USF samples indicates the immune systems of the fish were impaired from an unknown environmental stress or contamination. Other researchers say they have come to similar conclusions over the past year.

"Some of the things I've seen over the past year or so I've never seen before," said Will Patterson, a marine biologist at the University of South Alabama and at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. "Things like fin rot, large open sores on fish, those were some of the more disturbing types of things we saw. Different changes in pigment, red snapper with large black streaks on them."

All of this has biologists — and many fishermen — worried.

James Cowan, a reef fish expert at Louisiana State University doing long-term sampling for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, received his first report of fish with what looked like ulcers in November 2010. He began reading up on what scientific literature was available on oil spills and fish.

"There is so much in the literature that links exposure to PAHs (the compounds in oil) to exactly what we are seeing: sicknesses, lesions and everything else," Cowan said.

Even if oil could be pinpointed as a contaminant, however, it's difficult to definitively tie it to BP's Macondo well. The Gulf is littered with natural oil seeps, pipelines and oil wells and pollution from passing ships. In addition, there are the discharge of the Mississippi River, salinity and temperature fluctuations and other ecological factors to consider.

These early findings with fish are not out of step with what researchers are turning up all over the Gulf two years after the spill: The oil disaster whacked the Gulf. In the past year, research has emerged showing deep-water corals, seaweed beds, inshore bait fish, dolphins and other species were injured by the spill.

"There is lots of circumstantial evidence that something is still awry," said Christopher D'Elia, the dean of LSU's School of the Coast and Environment. "On the whole, it is not as much environmental damage as originally projected. Doesn't mean there is none."

Last year, as a string of fishermen reported problems with lesions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration advised fishermen to throw suspicious-looking fish back into the water. Fishermen say they've been doing just that to make sure bad fish don't get to dock.

While portions of a few bays remain closed because of the spill, the Food and Drug Administration and state agencies say they've undertaken the most thorough testing ever of seafood from the Gulf and found no problems or concerns of contaminated fish, and researchers agree there is little cause for concern.

"It's not a people issue, and people should not be concerned about fish entering the market," Murawski said.

For the second year, fishermen like Wayne Werner, a 53-year-old Louisiana captain who catches red snapper commercially, are calling in with reports of lesions.

He and other fishermen said they want to get to the bottom of a problem that's forcing them to take longer trips to fishing spots outside the spill zone and perpetuating their fear for their livelihoods.

"Every time we talked about bad fish, everybody kind of went nuts on us. Just like, 'You're hear-saying,' you know? And we're saying, 'Well, they're there,'" he said this week.

"They're still there. Now that the water is getting warm again, we're starting to see more and more again."

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Beautiful Greenpeace crowdfunding site lets you buy a piece of the new Rainbow Warrior « Giving in a digital world

Apr 18
Posted by leafworks Filed in Projects

An Excellent example of a working model for a fundraising campaign to get our ship. Looking for input on what "Friends of Pirate Relief", family, supporters, and crew think about this. Should we do something in this fashion?  ~ Input requested ....

Cross-posted from WordPress "Press This" - April 18, 2012 -

Posted by Bryan on February 20, 2011

Crowdfunding websites that let you contribute to specific projects are nothing new, but anewwarrior.greenpeace.org launched by Greenpeace to generate funds for their new Rainbow Warrior has lifted the bar to a new level in terms of on-site experience. The site opens with a great full screen video telling the story of the current Rainbow Warrior and the need for a replacement. Then you can take a look at the planned new vessel through an interactive 3d model and browse through detailed blueprints of the new ship to select items that you’d like to ‘buy’ to help fund its construction – anything from a Survival Suit at €800 to a €10 Toilet Roll Holder. All donors will receive a Certificate of Purchase and have their name added to a dedication wall on the ship itself. Elsewhere on the site you can see personal stories from the Rainbow Warrior crew and view video of the latest stage of construction via a webcam at the dry dock in Germany. Social sharing opportunities are provided through Facebook and Twitter share buttons. Overall, it’s a great user experience. Right down to the soundtrack becoming muffled if you drop beneath the surface of the sea to view the underside of the ship! The only thing they don’t seem to have got right is the search strategy to help drive traffic to the site. I first heard about it on Twitter (thanks to @101reinier). But then when I wanted to show the site to someone else and tried to find it using Google it was nowhere to be seen. Even typing ‘New Rainbow Warrior’ didn’t bring-up the site, although it did return a wide range of news stories about the ship being built and a range of other Greenpeace fundraising landing pages like this one.
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A new Rainbow Warrior sets sail

Apr 9
Posted by leafworks Filed in Cultural Issues, Life on the Sea, Projects, Ships
Feature story - October 14, 2011
The Earth has a new champion. In Bremerhaven, Germany, we’ve held the naming ceremony for the world’s first purpose-built, crowd-bought, eco-sleek sailing vessel, the new Rainbow Warrior.
 
The new Rainbow Warrior during sea trials.
If you’re one of the 100,000 donors who bought a bolt, an action boat, an anchor, a chart, a soap dish, a piece of her sail or the whole of her wheelhouse, thank you and obrigado. If you’re one of our 3 million regular annual donors, merci bien and Xie Xie! If you’re one of our 17 million email or mobile subscribers, Facebook fans or Twitter followers, gracias and shukran.  If you’re one of our 14,000 volunteers, danke schön and kinanâskomitinawaw. We said the Earth needed a new warrior, and each of you answered that call: today we smash a bottle of champagne across the bow, and launch the world’s first ship built from the keel up to win the battle for the future of the Earth. wo A-frame masts exclaim that this is no ordinary sailing ship: it is a sleek, efficient eco-vessel, every detail crafted with sustainability in mind, from the hard coating on her hull which is 100% free of biocides to the FSC® wood of her cabins, to the onboard recycling systems and biological sewage treatment. The new Rainbow Warrior will primarily be powered and propelled by the sun and wind , with the option in unsuitable weather to switch to efficient diesel-electric power. The revolutionary mast design allows her to carry more sail, and makes room for the radio masts, antennas, and domes that provide internet and satellite communications -- allowing us to broadcast video from remote locations and tweet from any ocean. She boasts a video editing suite, a conference room, a campaign office, two fast action boats, webcams fore and aft and a helicopter hanger and helideck. She can accommodate up to 30 people.  
Melina Laboucan-Massimo is from the Cree First Nation from Northern Alberta, Canada. She is the Godmother of the ship. The Rainbow Warrior prophecy (that the ship is named after) comes from Indigenous nations in North American, like the Cree.
  The first ship to bear her name was a rusting fishing trawler scraped and sanded down by hand and painted with a dove and rainbow. She made history saving whales, stopping radioactive waste dumping, and sailing straight into the forbidden zone around nuclear weapons tests from the Pacific to the Arctic. Her voyage into history was cut short by two limpet mines in 1985, when frightened politicians in Paris ordered French agents to sink the ship in New Zealand, believing this would stop our protests against nuclear weapons tests. One crewmember was murdered in the attack – photographer Fernando Pereira. It was a massive miscalculation, catalyzing opposition throughout the Pacific, strengthening Greenpeace, and hardening our resolve to rebuild and return. A supporter in Auckland coined the phrase that became a motto of opposition: “You Can’t Sink a Rainbow.”  When we returned to Moruroa in a refurbished sister ship, the legacy of the Rainbow Warrior as a parable of persistence was sealed. Today the Rainbow Warrior II is doing relief work in India as a hospital ship. As a purpose-built campaigning ship, the new Warrior will be a voice for our oceans, our forests, our climate, and our future. Built to last for at least 50 years, she is a promise to you, our supporters, to never give in, never give up. Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director, said at the ceremony: “The new Rainbow Warrior is the perfect ship with which navigate the perfect storm of ecological, economic and democratic crises lashing our world.” “Carrying an international crew, the Rainbow Warrior will confront environmental criminals across the world, she will investigate and expose destructive activities, but perhaps most of all will provide a beacon of hope and an inspiration to action wherever she goes. “If you’ve not yet been a part of the journey of building the Rainbow Warrior, please come onboard and be part of her voyage. The world needs another warrior: you.” >> Find out more about the Rainbow Warrior I and Rainbow Warrior II.
Catch our web video series "Stories from the Rainbow Warrior" and see the maiden voyage through the eyes of our newest activists, the New Hands on Deck: www.facebook.com/newhandsondeck It's our way of saying "Thank you" and to show off what 100,000+ of you bought when you funded the ship bolt by bolt, cleat by cleat, and sail by sail.

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The Educational Tall Ship Project of San Francisco Bay

Apr 8
Posted by leafworks Filed in Projects, Ships

The Educational Tall Ship is a project to build an environmentally sustainable wooden sailing vessel and operate her as a teaching platform for San Francisco Bay Area youth and adults.

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High-powered cannon sinks tsunami ‘ghost ship’

Apr 7
Posted by leafworks Filed in Cultural Issues, Defense, Life on the Sea
Cross-posted via Word Press "Press This" from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-17635726 
6 April 2012 Last updated at 04:31 GMTHelp
The US Coast Guard has used cannon to sink a crewless Japanese ship that drifted to Alaska after the 2011 tsunami. Petty Officer David Mosley said that the weapon was used to puncture holes in the vessel to take on water. The boat had no lights or power and was viewed as a danger to other ships.
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Chinese freighter hijacked by pirates off Iran: Xinhua

Apr 7
Posted by leafworks Filed in Cultural Issues, Defense, Life on the Sea
ReutersReuters – 9 hrs ago

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese freighter has been hijacked by pirates off southern Iran, the Chinese Embassy in Tehran reported on Friday.

The cargo ship, the "Xianghuamen," belongs to Nanjing Ocean Shipping Co Ltd in Nanjing, eastern China, the embassy said in a posting on its website.

The ship was commandeered Friday morning in the Gulf of Oman near the south Iranian port of Chabahar, the embassy said. The embassy is in touch with Iranian authorities and has asked the government to take all necessary steps to recover the vessel and its crew safely, according to the statement.

There were no other details, including the number of pirates or crew members.

An official with Nanjing Ocean Shipping contacted by telephone confirmed the hijacking, but would not provide further information.

(Reporting by Terril Yue Jones; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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Coast Guard monitors ghost ship drifting northwest

Apr 3
Posted by leafworks Filed in Cultural Issues, Life on the Sea, Ships
cross-posted via PressThis from: http://news.yahoo.com/coast-guard-monitors-ghost-ship-drifting-northwest-202417487.html  
Associated PressBy RACHEL D'ORO | Associated Press – 6 hrs ago
  • In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard, the derelict Japanese fishing vessel RYOU-UN MARU drifts more than 125 miles from Forrester Island in southeast Alaska where it entered U.S. waters March 31, 2012. The vessel has been adrift since it was launched by a tsunami caused by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that struck Japan last year. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)In this photo provided by the U.S. …

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A derelict Japanese ship dislodged by last year's massive tsunami was drifting toward Alaska Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The shrimping vessel was floating slowly northwest in the Gulf of Alaska about 125 miles west of the nearest point of land — Forrester Island outside the Dixon Entrance, a maritime transportation corridor separating U.S. and Canada jurisdictions. The ship is heading in the direction of the southeast Alaska town of Sitka 170 miles to the north, traveling at about one mile per hour, Coast Guard spokesmanDavid Mosley said.

There are no immediate concerns regarding the community of about 9,000, however. Mosley said the town is just a reference point at this time and that currents could always change.

"Our main concern is maritime traffic," he said. "We're trying to minimize any safety concerns, alerting vessels. We don't want any vessels to run into it."

A Coast Guard C-130 was heading to the ship Monday to pinpoint the exact location and check if a data buoy was successfully dropped on it Saturday.

The vessel has been adrift since it was launched by the tsunami caused by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that struck Japan last year. About 5 million tons of debris were swept into the ocean by the tsunami. The ship has been identified as coming from Hokkaido, Japan. Beside boat traffic, another concern is the ship's impact on the maritime environment after floating at sea more than a year. What's on board is unknown. Also unknown is whether the ship is carrying fuel. The vessel, named Ryou-Un Maru, is believed to be 150 to 200 feet long, according to Mosley. Officials are studying various options on how to deal with the ship, including scuttling it at sea or towing it to land. The Japan earthquake triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis since the Chernobyl accident in 1986, but Alaska state health and environmental officials have said there's little need to be worried that debris landing on Alaska shores will be contaminated by radiation. They have been working with federal counterparts to gauge the danger of debris including material affected by a damaged nuclear power plant, to see if Alaska residents, seafood or wild game could be affected. In January, a half dozen large buoys suspected to be from Japanese oyster farms appeared at the top of Alaska's panhandle and may be among the first debris from the tsunami.

The United States needs to hurry up and prepare for debris from the tsunami, U.S. Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska and Maria Cantwell of Washington state said last week in Seattle, before the ship crossed into U.S. waters from the coast of Canada. The Democratic senators said they're seeking three things from the federal government, including emergency research money to better understand where the debris is going and how much can be expected on U.S. shores.

At the time, Begich said he was worried the derelict vessel might end up in Alaska waters.

"My understanding is they know the owner and he has indicated they don't want it," Begich said Friday. "Neither do we."

Begich was not available for comment Monday. His spokeswoman, Julie Hasquet, repeated his call for a plan and funding as a necessity.

"The rapid pace at which events are changing and debris is moving only underscores that need," she said.

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