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In the Wake of the Exxon Valdez

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
The ninety-three pound male otter lay lethargically on his side. His eyes, normally large, brown limped pools of curiousity and merriment, now swam in a dull, opaque glaze of bewilderment. His naturally comincal face covered with fossilized creases of trapped oil, clearly mapped out his disquieting journey.

Balls of waste clogged his snout, preventing him from inhaling the acrid, pungent aroma of petroleum that hung oppressively in the air. Beads of oil played tag along his rumpled whiskers. Normally, these whiskers would stand upright at attention, yielding only to the weight of the sea water as he hunted and frolicked along the ocean floor. Now, thanks to Hazelwood, his vibrasse protrayed a sculpture of oil, creating a burdensome weight.

The otter's head drooped at an unatural angle. His tongue lolled halfway out of his mouth and there was heavy drool dripping down his chin. Thin streams of petroleum prowled over his tongue's surface, turning what should of been happy healthy pink tissue into an unatural grey hue. Low clucking noises emanated deep within his throat; a muted, yet distinct distress call. His long guard hairs, usually waterproof, stripped of their natural oil, sagged under the cumbersome weight of crude. Away from his natural habitat, Seward Bay in Alaska, he was now exposed to the dry air that was punctuated by the inconsistent hum of the electric heaters in the corner. His hardened hair was matted and stiff. Patches of his skin peered sickly through the muck, laid bare where the greasy substance had pulled cruelly at his fur. Over his entire body, a collection of debris in irregular patterns and shapes formed an abstract mossaic, consisting of bits of wood, clumps of kelp, fishing line, and a plastic soda can ring was all securely anchored in the quagmire.

Gooey oil continued to spill over the surface of the table where he laid, seeping down the metal table legs, joining a pool of crude already forming on the floor. Imprisoned by the suction of the oil, the otter's webbed feet, tipped by nonretractible claws, twitched in involuntary spasms. Forming an almost skin-tight noose, a soggy plastic bag lodged around his tail, making a home along with the other garbage.

Right here before me was a pathetic example of man's carelessness. This once magnificent clown of the sea offered little resistance as I gently bathed his coat with a mixture of warm water and Dawn detergent. Clearly, this patriarch of the Resurrection Bay Colony, this entagled creature displayed massive bulk and intimidating teeth; however, when my hand touched his head, a hopeful look infiltrated his eyes. A foundation of trust would grow between the two of us as we spent many hours together in the wake of the Exxon Valdez oil spill,in an experience I will never forget.
post #2 of 6
Thank you for helping those innocent victims. It must have been a terrible place to be, a place where you witnessed so much suffering! Surely there is a special place in heaven for those, like yourself, who came to the aid of such unfortunates. I'm proud to know you, especially as you did a brave thing in working to save lives in the aftermath of a great ecological catastrophe.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
It was more fascinating than sad. There were so many sea critters that were being helped, and in the back lot they had set up pools where the otters went after they were bathed so they could sun and groom themselves back to their natural coat oils. I saw very little fatalities while I was there, and even witnessed the birth of 4 baby otters. It was really an incredible team that pulled together and helped all those wonderful creatures find their way.
post #4 of 6

all I can say is


you've done some amazing things in your life.
post #5 of 6
Hissy; To combine what Joe and Colby said: WOW ! You make me "Proud" to call you My Friend!!!!
post #6 of 6

Amazing to read about a news story through the eyes of one who was there. Very moving, and interesting.
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