Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Whale Expert Provides First Hand Account of Queen of the North Oil Spill Response

Hermann Meuter of Cetacealab, a whale research station at the southern end of Gil Island, near where the Queen of the North ferry sank a week ago, has provided this personal account of his boat trip to the spill incident area. I am reprinting his observations in their entirety, unedited.

"Hello Gerald,

I wanted to give you an update on what we know is going on around Gil Island regarding the oil spill. We had a chance to get out on the water on Sunday, the day the underwater cameras were deployed.

We travelled north in Whale Channel to the side close to the shoreline. We were not able to find any spilled diesel along that shore. Having said that, it is very difficult to make out any spill from a boat, compared to a bird eye view a plane or helicopter would provide. We later scanned the beaches around Farrant and Fin Island helping out the people of Hartley Bay to find any debris, especially life jackets, left from the Queen of the North.

There were at least four boats from Hartley Bay working the beaches. It sure looks like that they are left to do the major part of the clean up. The north side of Fin Island seems to be affected quite heavily from the diesel. A seal haulout along that shoreline is covered in diesel, no seals on the rock which is very unusual. High winds prevented the boats to travel the west side of Fin Island. An unconfirmed report states that the diesel has reached the Estevan Island group.

As of this morning it sounds like that Burrard Clean is going to stop recovering the spill soon as there is not much diesel coming to the surface. At that point the people of Hartley Bay and this ecosystem will slowly vanish off the public eye.

We are expecting the first pods of Killer whales soon in this area. We will do our best to monitor their movements through the area and their possible contact with the spilled oil.

Regards,

Hermann Meuter"

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

you said...
"It sure looks like that they are left to do the major part of the clean up."


well....ya....I wouldn't call that the major part of the cleanup though. Hopefully that is yet to come.....but
Hermann you make this sound like the people from the village are doing it against their will and without compensation. What is your intention? Do you know the fuss they would raise if Burrard Clean didn't hire them?

you said...
"it is very difficult to make out any spill from a boat, compared to a bird eye view a plane or helicopter would provide."

And if you were experienced enough Hermie.... you would know that from the air you can only guess that all the wind-rows you see are actually oil. Even though they are not when you get into a boat and get a closer look.

you said....
"As of this morning it sounds like that Burrard Clean is going to stop recovering the spill soon as there is not much diesel coming to the surface."

You make it sound like they were recovering something. Did you see any recovered oil? Fact is that over the first week when one would expect to get the most oil they only recovered what would amount to be 20 litres. Not the wisest way to spend a million bucks. Because of message boards like this and false media coverage, the whole incident has just gotten political.

Don't waste money trying to recover oil that you can't recover. The money would be better spent on actual recovery.

I'm not saying that protective booming is a waste of time or money, on the contrary it is the only thing that is of any use at this moment.

you said.....
"We are expecting the first pods of Killer whales soon in this area. We will do our best to monitor their movements through the area and their possible contact with the spilled oil."

Now here you make it sound like there is this gob of oil floating around the area.

The oil comes up in small drops...it is the size of a pea when it reaches the surface. If one was to be lucky enough to be right there as it surfaced they would see it hover below the water until it breaks through the surface tension of the salt water. Now it explodes into rainbow sheen and is visible to vessels and aircraft. This pea sized gobule has now appeared to grow to a 4 foot or larger sheen of oil( or as some of you seem to refer to as a slick) Depending on weather and sea state this process has taken about...30 seconds at the most on a calm day. But realise this , your window of opportunity for recovering the pea sized gob of diesel is lost. It is now an unrecoverable sheen that will be visible for less than 4 hours on this calm day, and then it will have all but vanished from the naked eye.

If it best for our time and money (not to mention the risk of health and safety of the workers in the field)to be spent trying to clean up oil that you can't recover just because it looks good, so be it.

Don't come back when it is all said and done and complain about how much it has cost you taxpayers of BC.

11:29 AM  
Blogger GG said...

All right, my friend! You sound very familiar, but I shall scrupulously maintain your right to anonymity. Nevertheless, I wish you all the best in your soon-to-be retirement, no doubt aboard your cute little houseboat in CB.

3:57 PM  

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