Gulf Apocalypse: Don’t Watch This Video

Conservationist John L. Wathen aka “Hurricane Creek Creekkeeper” has been producing powerful videos of the BP oil catastrophe. He first went up with SouthWings pilots in early May. Now he’s released another video from June 21 that shows the Gulf Apocalpyse, including dolphins and whales dying in the open water. The day after this video appeared on Keith Olbermann’s show, the Coast Guard enacted new rules that prohibit media from getting close to the slick by boat or air.

“We saw this pod of dolphins obviously struggling just to breathe. Then we found this guy: a sperm whale swimming in the oil had just breached. Along his back we could see red patches of crude as if he’d been basted for broiling. Then we saw this pod of dolphins, some already dead, some in their death throes. It seemed they were raising their heads looking at the fires, wondering why is my world burning down around me, why would humans do this for me.”–John L. Wathen

“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl [that] may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.”–Genesis 1:20-23

It seems like I should draw some kind of helpful conclusion at this point; a summation. But, as Walter Brueggemann says of the prophet Ezekial, “Ministry has to do with grieving silence after the warning is unheeded.”

Rose Marie Berger, an associate editor at Sojourners, blogs at www.rosemarieberger.com. She’s the author of Who Killed Donte Manning? The Story of an American Neighborhood available at store.sojo.net.

Poem: “In the Cross Maker’s Tent” by Jeff Newberry

In response to British Petroleum’s industrial oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, I went looking for poetry. I found a great collection over at Poets for Living Waters. Here’s a poem by Jeff Newberry, a Gulf native.

“Recently, I visited my hometown, Port St. Joe, Florida, a former mill town and fishing village on the Gulf Coast, some 35 miles east of Panama City,” writes Jeff.  “I took a long walk one morning down by St. Joseph’s Bay, and looking out over the still green water, I saw where the shallows dropped off into the deeper water of the bay.  It was clear demarcation: visible sand then darkness.  I found the contrast both beautiful and ominous.  Only later did I realize that my thinking about art comes from having grown up by the Gulf of Mexico.  For me, art is like St. Joesph’s Bay.  You can see it, measure it, understand it – up to a point.  Beyond that point is mystery, a place both exciting and dangerous, a place where you lose yourself and become a part of the art itself.”

In the Cross Maker’s Tent
Port St. Joe Seafood Festival

The old woman carved crosses from driftwood,
Displayed them on lattice board, ran balsa
Hands over one as she spoke:  I find the pieces

Each morning, washed up from the bay. Some days,
Webs of seaweed tangle them, but I find the best
Pieces this way:  hidden. I wanted to buy a carving,

Pictured her hands turning the wood, palms like wave-
Polished sea glass.  Did she use a lathe?  Did she plane
Or shave the wood?  How often did she slip & slice

Skin from her palm? Outside, the festival continued:
People drifted by the tent, a steady rhythm of voices,
Like waves stealing sand.  October wind rattled

The tattered canvas.  Bruised clouds churned low
Over St. Joseph’s Bay.  A sudden strobe of lightning.
She gestured west, swirled the air with one lined palm.

Indian summer.   Rain’s coming she said.   Storms, hail.
It’s the heat mixing with the coming cold. I chose
A gray cross with periwinkle inlays, felt the honed-

Down ridges, imagined her finding it after a sleepless
Night, carving it as the sea lay still, a sheet of glass.

Read more of Jeff’s work here.

Video: ‘The Gulf Appears to be Bleeding’

Thanks to Sue Sturgis over at the Institute for Southern Studies for posting  the story of John Wathen and his heart-breaking video of  the oil spill destroying our southern coast as a result of BP criminal negligence.

The Institute for Southern Studies was founded in 1970 by veterans of the civil rights movement and has established a national reputation as an essential resource for grassroots activists, community leaders, scholars, policy makers and others working to bring lasting social and economic change to the region. Sue Sturgis writes:

Hurricane Creekkeeper John Wathen of Alabama and volunteer pilot Tom Hutchings of SouthWings flew over the Gulf of Mexico on Friday to get a look at the massive oil slick spreading from the site of the BP disaster.

At nine miles out, they began to smell the oil. At 11 miles, they saw a visible sheen on the water. And at mile 87 off the Alabama coast, they reached ground zero of the disaster — what Wathen described as a “red mass of floating goo” as far as the eye can see.

“The Gulf appears to be bleeding,” he said.

“For the first time in my environmental career, I find myself using the word ‘hopeless,'” Wathen continued. “We can’t stop this. There’s no way to prevent this from hitting our shorelines.”

Wathen and Hutchings had no trouble finding their way back to land: “All we had to do was follow the red,” Wathens said. “There was a perfect line of it leading from the rig to the shoreline.”

Here’s the video from that trip, which is also posted to Wathen’s blog dedicated to documenting the disaster:

ISS – ‘The Gulf appears to be bleeding’ (video).