The killing fields beneath the Gulf of Mexico

Sketch by Glen Loates
Text by Dr. Joe MacInnis

Bluefin tuna trying to escape an upwelling of oil (c) Glen Loates
Bluefin tuna trying to escape an upwelling of oil (c) Glen Loates

It is the great dying no one can see. It is taking place below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico in hundreds of cubic miles of water filled with ragged columns, thin streams, and small droplets of oil. For more than two months the ever-enlarging oil plume has been drifting across this unseen realm enveloping the larvae and newborn of snapper, dolphin, lobster, billfish and bluefin tuna. The prodigy of death and mutilations in young and mature animals includes eye wounds, mouth wounds, gill wounds, stomach wounds, gelatinous tissue wounds, and oxygen-deprived metabolisms.
The killing continues right up to the surface where phytoplankton—the lungs of the planet—are savaged by the violence of the oil and the chemicals used to disperse it. Trillions upon trillions of dead diatoms and dinoflagellates rain down through the filthy procession of upward moving oil. In deep water they merge with uncounted corpses of copepods and in deeper water still, the remnants of big fish, small fish, turtles, mammals, and invertebrates. The deluge of mega-death continues until the lifeless remains come to rest on the gaunt brown floor of the Gulf.
Dr. Joe MacInnis, a medical doctor and one of the world’s foremost explorers, has led or participated in more than fifty major undersea expeditions – including his dive to the RMS Titanic. Most recently, he spent two months diving with Academy Award winning director James Cameron during the filming of Aliens of the Deep. In his speeches, Dr. Joe MacInnis shares the values including courage, communication, and teamwork that enhance performance under the ocean and in the corporate world.

You can make a difference. Sign our Oil Spill Petition to protect Canada’s Arctic from disaster, and and read this blog post for more ways that you can help.