State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Cousteau explores the Gulf oil spill

Well-known oceanographer and documentary filmmaker Jean-Michel Cousteau and his organization, Ocean Futures Society, made 2 trips to the Gulf to study the impact that the oil spill is having on marine and terrestrial life. Cousteau is known for being an ocean explorer and documentarian, and for being the son of Jacques Cousteau.

In two interviews with PBS he spoke about what he and his team were finding.

On June 2, 2010, he said he felt that the use of oil dispersants was a mistake. Causing the oil to sink below the surface (“out of sight, out of mind,” he said) was a mistake because it is able to go under the booms and toward the shore. Additionally, the dispersants cause the oil to break into smaller particles, which could be ingested by plankton, the foundation for the ocean’s food chain.

In the second interview on July 14, Cousteau said that his team is studying the impacts on animals in the Gulf’s ecosystem and they are collecting animal samples for autopsies to determine the exact cause of death. To illustrate how tragic the situation is, he gives the example of dolphins nursing their young in the oily water.

Ocean Futures Society divers filmed the oil underwater – it’s very disturbing to see what Gulf marine life must now swim and breathe in.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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Joe Sortais
Joe Sortais
13 years ago

If you were evaluating Jean-Michel Cousteau’s story of the environmental damage in the Gulf vs. BP’s public relations campaign, which would the American public believe was more credible?
Joe Sortais