As if there wasn't already enough controversy surrounding the oil industry, the disastrous spill that occurred April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico has got fingers pointing yet again. The Obama administration has laid the blame on BP, requiring the majority-owners of the drilling fields to foot the bill for a proposed $118 million package that will aid out-of-work fisherman and improve seafood inspection. But in the commotion to determine who's responsible, coastal and marine wildlife seem to have been forgotten.
Four species of shark, five species of sea turtle, seven species of tuna, 23 twenty species of whales, and over 280 migratory birds are all known to live in the area affected by the spill. Wildlife rescue falls mostly in the hands of independent organizations such as the Defenders of Wildlife, In Defense of Animals and their respective volunteers. Funded by the oil companies themselves, the Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC) has taken on the majority of the responsibility for cleanup. Unfortunately, the MSRC only has access to the same supplies used in response to the Exxon-Valdez spill in 1990. These decades-old resources are little match for the state-of-the-art drilling equipment paid for by BP. So, if the President isn't going to help the rich wildlife of the Gulf Coast, and those designated to save the animals are fighting a modern war with ancient weapons, what are we going to do? The answer: anything we can.
We swiftly mobilized in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti and the devastating Hurricane Katrina before that. Well, now we have to help, not our fellow humans, but our fellow creatures, great and small. Why is it that their lives are continuously relegated to the background in the face of corporate interest and human self-centeredness?
Both the Greater New Orleans Foundation and the Environmental Defense Fund are accepting donations to aid in relief and wildlife rescue efforts, as well as the Defenders of Wildlife. If you are able to not only donate money, but your time as well, the National Audubon Society and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana are welcoming volunteers.
With oil and refuse lapping at the shores of Louisiana and Mississippi's barrier islands and setting their sights on Florida's gulf coast, the call for help is a dire one. Sea turtle migration patterns have been broken, homes have been lost, lives are being extinguished at alarming rates. Now, more than ever, the animals of the gulf coast need your help.
It is only a matter of time before mankind destroys another ecosystem. Instead of scouring for new places to find old fuel, we should be putting our efforts towards greener, more efficient energy sources. Please help make this disaster the last. To learn how you can help the finned and feathered residents of the Gulf of Mexico, please read bellow and follow the opportunities that apply to you.
Opportunities for anyone to help:
• Support In Defense of Animals here.
• Donate to Defenders of Wildlife here.
• Donate to the Greater New Orleans Foundation here.
• Donate to the Environmental Defense Fund here.
• Bring in a new day with Dawn! Buy a bottle of Dawn dishwashing detergent, then visit the Dawn Web site to activate a $1 donation by Dawn to the Marine Mammal Center and the International Bird Rescue Research Center.
• Matter of Trust is collecting donations of hair, fur and nylons that it uses to soak up the oil.
• Send a political message about the need to restore the Gulf Coast! The National Wildlife Federation has created this form letter you can send to President Obama.
• Those in favor of halting all ocean drilling all together can use this form letter from the Sierra Club.
• If you'd like to volunteer for the Audubon Society, you can fill out this volunteer form.
• Donate to the National Wildlife Federation here.
• Donate Alabama Coastal Foundation here.
• Donate to Save our sea birds here.
If you live on or near the Gulf Coast, the following may apply to you:
• If you see any oiled animals DO NOT approach or touch them. Instead, call BP's Oiled Wildlife Response Hotline immediately at 866-557-1401.
• Gulf Coast volunteers can call 1-866-448-5816.
• BP's "Vessels of Opportunity" program asks qualified and equipped professionals with fishing boats or other similar vessels to aid in their clean up efforts. Those with eligible vessels will be compensated for their use. For more information, call 281-366-5511.
• Florida asks untrained volunteers to pick up trash on its beaches to minimize the impact of the spill once it hits land. Volunteers are asked to leave natural debris in place, though, as it provides shelter for birds and other animals.
• Join the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Volunteers Facebook group here.
• Louisianna residents can sign up to volunteer here.
• Florida residents can Volunteer their time here.
• Volunteer for the Coalition to Restore Louisiana here.
For more animal advice, visit www.animalfair.com.
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