A Small Antidote

Posted by Lisa Franzetta, ALDF's Director of Communications on July 22, 2010

A quick internet search for coverage of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, now that we’re three months into this unprecedented environmental devastation, would suggest that there’s probably nothing left to write. Literally tens of thousands of hits pop up, articles, blogs, and personal accounts using once-dramatic descriptors that now feel clichéd–the hemorrhaging well gushing blackness into a once-blue sea; the vast wasteland of the now-spoiled waters; the despair of Gulf residents who have already endured enough disaster of Biblical proportion for one generation.

We’re so saturated with news about the spill that even “compassion fatigue“–a potential ramification of the overwhelm–is getting played-out as a topic of discussion. It’s understandable. How can even the most empathetic among us conceive of the ever-expanding nature of what is already an unimaginable catastrophe?

Speaking for myself, I can’t, really–conceive of the magnitude of the spill, that is. And so it felt like a much-needed antidote to how abstract my understanding of the massive spill has become when I saw these photos of oil-covered turtles in a Washington Post piece yesterday. "’The turtles look as if they’ve been frosted in cake frosting,’ said research scientist Blair Witherington." Despite all I’ve heard and read as a part of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s lawsuit to ensure that BP and the Coast Guard stop burning turtles alive in controlled burns, nothing has quite put a beat into my heart like the image of this young turtle, caked in oil–her utter helplessness the most compelling indictment I can imagine of the destruction that we humans have allowed.

All of our best efforts to right this wrong–and we must make them, with all of the ferocity we can muster–will still be insufficient. But the image of this turtle will now be the touchstone that reminds me why we must continue to fight these small battles, and for whom.

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