Monday, November 12, 2007

What in the world...

Ugh. More bad news. Here's BBC's report on Volganeft, the Russian tanker that spilled its guts into the Black Sea along with 2,000 metric tonnes of fuel oil. Making it a Blacker Sea. The people who know say the mess "could take years to clean up."
Just what we needed - another environmental disaster.
Coincidentally, I was cussing under my breath just last night when watching a TV program [on Discovery or Animal Planet, I'm not sure] about the Galapagos Islands, with special focus on the unique indigenous marine iguanas found there. A few years ago, an oil spill in the San Cristobal area had reduced the population of marine iguanas on Santa Fe Island by a whopping 62%, because the oil affected the algae that the iguana fed on. Or that's what they said on the program.
The New Scientist website report said the algae was okay, it was the fermentation bacteria in the iguana's hindguts [Yes. Hindguts.] that were affected so they couldn't digest the algae etc.
Anyway. It's not nice to know.

Many years ago when I was in middle school in Dubai, I remember there was a 'big oil spill' which affected the Gulf, and it was all over the news which is the only reason it stuck in my childish memory. I was quite disturbed by the dead bodies of oil-blackened seagulls washing up ashore [not my favourite bird by any means, but...] and I read up a lot on the subject and felt even back then that human beings can be quite shit. (After which ruminations I would go back to my gripping games of Hopscotch, Poison-Medicine or Four-Square.) Our schools organised programs to go help clean up beaches, there were special presentations and seminars on the environment in general and the effect of such disasters on wildlife etc. That was probably the first time I thought about such things seriously. I think it was the visual of the dead birds that affected me most.
I hardly remember anything specific about the incident but searches on the internet and my brilliant deduction techniques [my approximate age at the time of said spill plus Google search], lead me to understand it was the Persian Gulf oil spill of 1991, only the biggest oil spill of all time. Phew. An environmental warfare technique used by Iraq where over 2 million barrels of oil were deliberately released to prevent US Marine forces from landing in Kuwait. Fantastic.

And in recent days, I read up on tigers worldwide actually going extinct in the near future. Seriously. Alarmingly. Not the usual "Yeah, yeah, they're going extinct. We've been hearing that for ages now," that we used to hear in the same vein as "Yeah, yeah, Metallica's coming to Bangalore this year for sure."

Some factoids:
"At the turn of the century, the world had approximately 100,000 tigers. Now it is estimated there are only 3,000 to 7,000 left in the wild. In the last 50 years, three subspecies have vanished, and a fourth, the South China tiger, is on the brink of extinction. More than half the
tigers that survive in the wild are in the Indian subcontinent, persisting in threatened habitats. If the trend continues, our magnificent tiger may disappear completely from the face of the Earth."
In India alone, the tiger population has decreased by 50% in only the last 5 years. There are just 1300-1500 tigers left in the wild in India.

This is devastating. Till last year I used to feel horses were the most beautiful creatures in the world. Then I discovered cats. My feline initiation leaves me no doubt that cats win hands down. And tigers especially. Rrrrrrr.

No comments: