Greenpeace Begins Independent Assessment of Gulf Impacts with Three-Month Ship Tour

Following the news that for now the well has been capped and oil is no longer flowing into the Gulf, Greenpeace has announced that the Arctic Sunrise, a Greenpeace ship, will be launching a three-month expedition to document the true impacts of the disaster on Gulf marine life as well as researching the unique environments and marine life that are at risk that will be impacted in the coming months. The ship will leave the week of August 9th from Tampa, Florida, and will visit the Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas before approaching the well-head during the first one-month long leg, examining everything from the plankton on the surface to the subsurface plumes, to the deep sea corals on the floor of the Gulf.

“This weekend, BP announced that for now, the well has been capped, and oil is no longer flowing into the Gulf.  Let’s not forget that capping the well is not the entire solution. Tens of millions of gallons of oil have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, compromising the wildlife and ecosystems, destroying the region’s fisheries, and affecting the ocean for decades to come.   BP has made countless mistakes, devoted inadequate resources, and withheld information from and denied access to journalists and the American public.  Now, Greenpeace is headed to the source to do our own independent assessment of the impacts and start telling the truth to America and the world.  We all need to see the true extent and nature of this oil catastrophe.” said Philip Radford, Executive Director for Greenpeace USA.
The Arctic Sunrise is a 50-meter long, icebreaker ship that was purchased by Greenpeace in 1995.   Since then, it has peacefully protested whaling in the Southern Ocean, documented climate change and glacier melts in the Arctic, and was the first ship to circumnavigate James Ross Island in the Antarctic, which previously was an impossible journey until a 200m thick ice shelf connecting the island to the Antarctic continent collapsed.
“Greenpeace is calling for a moratorium on offshore drilling, and for Congress and the White House to come clean, get rid of campaign contributions from dirty energy, and to stop subsidizing big oil and coal.” said Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director John Hocevar, “We think this ship tour will illuminate what has been lost in the Gulf because of these energy policies, and we are making a commitment to tell the story of what is happening to our oceans: the whales, the dolphins and the vast and complex marine ecosystem that supports them.”

On this expedition, the Arctic Sunrise will host independent scientists and researchers who will be looking at marine life, and monitoring for oiled marine mammals, turtles, fish, and sea birds.  Charles Messing and Jose Lopez from Nova Southeastern University will be on board looking at sponges as bioindicators; since they filter large quantities of water, they are useful for looking at sublethal impacts of oil and dispersants.  Greenpeace will be announcing other on-board scientists in the coming weeks.

Throughout the expedition Greenpeace will be able to provide:
    * Live interviews with onboard campaigners and scientists
    * Video and still photography
    * An interactive, web-based Virtual Ship Tour that lets supporters come along for the journey

Greenpeace is calling for:
A ban on offshore drilling and exploration of all high-risk unconventional oil sources (including in the Arctic and from tar sands); an end to fossil fuel subsidies and an increase in support for clean energy; and strong laws and policies that limit global warming and stimulate a clean energy revolution.

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