Monday, May 24, 2010

Shark Diver Blog - Whale Shark Oil Story

When news of the Gulf oil spill first broke last month my thoughts quickly went to the whale sharks in the region.

I did an online search of previous Gulf whale shark posts we had done here at Underwater Thrills and discovered the runaway oil well was right in the middle of prime feeding and migrating habitat for these animals.

I posted a thought here about migrating whale sharks on April 25th.

For the general public at that time this disaster was happening "out of sight and out of mind." By bringing whale sharks into the story I had hoped to highlight a wider problem for all vulnerable Gulf species affected by this spill.

After realising this disaster was quickly becoming the "mother of all spills" I returned to the Gulf whale shark story on May 14th and did an in depth interview of Dr. Eric Hoffmayer, shark biologist at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. He and his staff were very instrumental in highlighting the immediate problem for whale sharks.

This map and overlay was provided by his lab detailing one species exposure to an estimated 70,000 barrels of oil a day in the region. It was just what was needed to bring an "out of sight out of mind" eco disaster home.

After I posted the story "Prime Time for Whale Sharks at Ground Zero," it received a boost from fellow Blue Bloggers Richard Theiss and Pete Thomas on May 17th.

The major media ran with it locally and then nationally soon after.

May 18th Fox News

May 19th MSNBC

May 19th KATC

May 19th Associated Press

May 19th The Statesman

A Google search for "Biggest fish very vulnerable to spill" will return 1000's re posts of the same story we initially broke back on the 14th of the month.

What's interesting to me as a Blue Blogger covering sharks is the ability of our industry to shape and move a story. One more example of sharks helping people to understand our oceans.

Thanks to both Richard and Pete for the timely Blue Blog boost. I think we had an impact.

Patric Douglas CEO

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