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Surfing Soapbox:

Heartbreaking sights off Gulf

May 14, 2010|By James Pribram

It’s like the quiet storm here. There’s not a soul on the beach, and there hasn’t been since I arrived three days ago.

Fishing boats sit like empty houses in an old abandoned ghost town — a sad reality of the halt on the fishing and shrimping industry due to the massive oil spill that sits off of the coast of Mississippi.

Here in Biloxi, Miss., my team and I chartered a boat out to the Gulf Islands National Sea Shore, and to my amazement it was far worse than I could have imagined.

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I don’t want to sound like a defeatist here. However, once you leave the shore behind and realize the enormity of our ocean and the impossibility of containing an oil spill of this magnitude, it’s downright heartbreaking.

Watching the bottle- nose dolphins glide through the water just off of our boat, almost at an arm’s length away, I could only hope that they would be safe.

I feel a certain kinship with them, almost like family. Just a little farther outside sat the beautiful white sand beach of Ship Island surrounded by an oil boom.

The oil boom, which sits only a couple of inches above the surface, doesn’t really do much in windy conditions, especially in choppy conditions like Wednesday when the water just splashes right over it.

This is the best that we have?

The reality of this, in recalling my recent experience here, has just hit me, and it sucks, to say the least. I hate to admit this, but my eyes are almost teary.

On another island, we watched birds feeding on a huge bait ball with oil scum floating on the surface. One can only imagine how long they might have to live.

I’ve heard reports about how this is the greatest clean-up effort ever. I can only say that I haven’t seen it. Perhaps it’s further out.

However, I counted nine boats laying oil boom off of the Chandelier Island, and to me, it doesn’t come close to being enough.

What is enough? How much is enough?

I’ve seen enough, and I feel like I’m watching the slow death of my best friend all over again.

Peace.


JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental Award winner. His websites include AlohaSchoolofSurfing.com and ECOWarriorSurf.com. He can be reached at Jamo@AlohaSchoolofSurfing.com.

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