Photo via Sunphol Sorakul via Flickr CC
The Gulf oil disaster is having a massive impact on wildlife, with waves of animal deaths continuing into the foreseeable future thanks to both the oil and toxic clean-up methods. The disaster is so great that the extinction of some species is not an outlandish possibility, so it seems like a good idea to create a sanctuary elsewhere for the species who call the gulf home until the oil can be cleaned up. Naturalist Jack Rudloe has started just such a haven at his home in Tallahassee, building a Noah's Ark-style preserve for everything from crabs and sharks to starfish and shrimp, hoping to keep members of as many species as possible safe until they can return to their natural habitat. According to Yahoo, 67-year-old Rudloe, an expert on the Gulf marine habitats and well-known among marine biologists, has created Operation Noah's Ark on his four-acre facility just south of Tallahassee and about 20 miles from the easternmost point where oil was reported on the panhandle of Florida. Over 350 species are setting up camp on his preserve, which even includes a grassland and area that duplicates high and low tides.
"We have this endless supply of critters and water out there," stated Rudloe. "We have to get as many animals in there as we can and then if the conditions permit, be able to put some of them back and get some things started. I don't believe that the oil is gone. It's still out there in cold water, little tiny droplets that could come spilling up here in the wrong conditions of one or two hurricanes."
The project is not cheap -- Rudloe estimates it could cost as much as $1.2 million, money that Rudloe doesn't have coming in from his licensed, non-profit facility. He hopes BP will help fund it, but there's no word whether or not the company will provide support. Some support has come through, however, including a water-oil separator valued at $25,000 from Pennsylvania-based Martin Marine, which Rudloe says is invaluable for sifting out petrochemicals from his water systems. Everything from sea urchins to sea cucumbers to sea horses are depending on safe salt-water for survival while the Gulf is cleaned up.
Here are videos from Rudloe showing his facility:
And a news blip about the project from early June as the project got started:
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