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#385387 - 08/11/10 04:32 AM Audrey Matura Shepherd’s OCEANA along BP oil spill  
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Audrey Matura Shepherd’s OCEANA vessel along BP oil spill

[Linked Image] Oceana Belize is known for its opposition to offshore drilling in Belize. Its Vice President, Audrey Matura Shepherd, has joined a voyage that is tracking the British Petroleum oil spill throughout the gulf. The Oceana team is aboard the vessel called the Latitude. Matura Shepherd spoke to News Five via phone with an update on Oceana’s voyage that will also assess the damage done to the environment and animals.

Via Phone: Audrey Matura Shepherd, VP OCEANA

“Things are going very well. We just had to wait until our underwater vehicle came and cleared Customs. We checked between yesterday and today, and we have all our equipment on board now; we are testing everything and we have fortunately four very good divers. They will be diving, taking samples and tagging the turtles and sharks. Also on board we have Ms. Alumenda Fernandez. She is a Spanish model but she works out of the New York area and she is very much interested in marine issues so she’s on board being photographed to highlight the issues of what oil exploration can mean in terms of marine wildlife. And she also wants to raise the issue so that people become more involved in the discussion. Amongst our divers, we have two from Spain and two from Chile. Amongst the ones from Chile, these are gentlemen, especially Eduardo who specializes in underwater photography and videography and his function here is to take documentary pictures. The other two divers from Spain, they are also scientists. One of them is a scientist and they will be taking the samples of the different waters that we have in different areas so that we can check how far the dispersants floated and how far oil can be located in this area.”

Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler and Spanish model Almudena Fernandez were among the nearly eighty guests onboard the Oceana Latitude Saturday night for the launch of Oceana’s two-month Gulf of Mexico research expedition.

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#385604 - 08/14/10 04:05 AM Re: Audrey Matura Shepherd’s OCEANA along BP oil spill [Re: Short]  
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Oceana’s Audrey Matura Shepherd joins Gulf of Mexico Research Expedition

[Linked Image] Nearly 80 guests were onboard the Oceana Latitude on Saturday, August 7th, 2010 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to observe the launch of Oceana's two-month 2010 Gulf of Mexico research expedition. One of the guests was Vice President of Oceana in Belize, Audrey Matura Shepherd. Matura-Shepherd will be on hand for at least one week of the expedition, where she will join a team of scientists from both sides of the Atlantic with experience in the most serious oil spills of recent decades.

Beyond the work of other organizations, Oceana intends to assess the long-term impact of the BP oil spill. Possible oil spreading moves will be identified in order to study the effect on sensitive habitats and migratory species tagging will be conducted to survey their capacity to avoid contaminated areas. The vessel employed is the Latitude, a 51-meter long expedition ship that is capable of sailing in both shallow and deep waters and has been adapted to serve as a diving platform. The two-month trip sets sail from Fort Lauderdale through the Gulf of Mexico, including the Louisiana Coast. Professional divers, prestigious international photographers and videographers will join the crew on board led by oceanographer Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe, as well as Dr. Mike Hirshfield, Chief Science Director at Oceana. Joining them is also Dr. Jeff Short, one of the world's leading experts on spills, who participated in the work to clean up the Exxon Valdez spill and continues to work on its current repercussions.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has far-reaching effects, especially where tourism is concerned. Matura-Shepherd is using the opportunity to gain international attention to the situation in Belize, where we rely heavily on tourism for economic development. "As I explain that almost the entire marine territory of Belize, including areas where our famous barrier reef lives has been leased out to some eight oil companies, the reaction of the people is of shock, since this goes against Belize's reputation as an eco-friendly destination with the world's second largest barrier reef," she said. As part of the expedition, she is looking to learn the realities faced by the local residents of key coastal areas along the coast of Louisiana who have been affected by the BP spill as well. "In the long term, we would want a similar expedition done in Belize so we can document the sensitive ecosystem along Belize's coast and to study our deep waters of which little is known, and thus we would be able to present our leaders the much needed information they need to make wise decisions on the use of our marine resource."

The official launch was also attended by Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. "Jack" Seiler and Spanish model Almudena Fernandez, who has been active in her participation on environmental issues both in her country and beyond.

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#385930 - 08/19/10 05:11 AM Re: Audrey Matura Shepherd’s OCEANA along BP oil spill [Re: Short]  
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The Gulf Spill Story

The 2010 Gulf of Mexico Expedition was launched by the Oceana foundation on August 7th. It included the Vice President of Oceana in Belize - Audrey Matura Shepard - along with a team of the most experienced scientists who've studied the most serious oil spills in recent years.

The tour was aimed at assessing the spill's long term impacts. Today in a press conference held by the "Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage", Matura-Shepherd - who recently returned from her trip to the Gulf- shared with us some of the impacts she saw firsthand near the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Audrey Matura Shepard, Vice President of Oceana in Belize

[Linked Image] "The purpose of my trip was really a fact finding one and was to learn what was happening out in the Gulf of Mexico and to see if there was any relationship with Belize, if there was any relevance, and if we could learn a lesson...and, boy, there was a lesson to be learned! I learned that in Louisiana unlike what is being said and that 75% of the oil has disappeared; that not true. A vast portion has been seeped up in the marshes and is it's right there in the marshes, so much so that right now they have booms around the islands to keep the oil on the marshes and not back in the water. I think it should be an eye opener simply because for now I will assume that the government is making decisions out of ignorance, they have not seen what I have seen and I haven't seen all. I could learn more and read more but I don't think they have realized the impact that this industry will have on Belize on a whole. We are looking short term and we are saying oh the economy is bad and any money will keep the budget tight will just bridge us through the next budget and stuff like that is good, but no, that is being very myopic and it's being very foolhardy because what will be happening is that, yes, we will be solving this problem for now but we will be creating a long term problem as I saw has happen in Louisiana and Louisiana doesn't have a barrier reef. Yes their marshes are rich but their marshes are a little more sturdier than a barrier reef so I will think that the government needs to really appraise itself as to what it means to have wells out along dotting our coastline, what it means to have these tankers out there floating; it's like houses floating on water full of oil and having these pipes running to our coastline and there will be serious dredging that needs to be done so that vessels could come to port and load these oils and take it out."

Monica Bodden
"Now, what were the areas that you had the opportunity to tour?"

Audrey Matura Shepard, Vice President of Oceana in Belize
"Well I went from New Orleans and drove to an area named Plaquemines and from Plaquemines I went to Myrtle Grove and from Myrtle Grove I took a vessel to an area called Barataria Bay and that is a rich marshland area and from there I went to Grand Isles and from Grand Isles I went a little bit out to the gulf but I was like 80 miles away from where the disaster actually occurred, the weather wasn't conducive for me going all that way and also the vessel that I was on board was very small."

So far there are no known indirect threats to Belize as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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#385997 - 08/20/10 08:11 AM Re: Audrey Matura Shepherd’s OCEANA along BP oil spill [Re: Short]  
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OCEANA’s lead scientist looks at long term effects of oil spill

[Linked Image] OCEANA has hired the vessel, Latitude, for a three month period to take scientists along the areas of the gulf coast affected by the Deep Horizon oil spill. So far hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent in clean-up efforts, and reports from British Petroleum say that most of the oil has dissolved. The lead scientist has said that though there is less visible oil, it doesn’t mean the oil has dissipated. The ongoing research is already proving that because of chemicals used to break up the oil, much of it is now below the surface of affected waters. In a video provided courtesy of OCEANA; Doctor Michael Hirshfield the lead scientist on the expedition, explained the merits of the journey.

Dr. Michael Hirshfield, Scientist in charge of Gulf Expedition

“Most of the oil that has been released is still in the water under the water. Only some of the oil was captured and some of the oil ended up on the beaches. Another thing that we know is that the impact of the oil that has been under water are likely to affect things like plankton, things like deep sea corals and habitat for fishes, filter feeders like whale sharks and other species as well. So for us, now is the time to come to the gulf to see how much oil is still out there and to look for the longer term effects, not just the effects that people see on TV when the oil washes up on the beach or covers a bird.”

“So what is it that you actually hope to accomplish in this area in this two month expedition?”

Dr. Michael Hirshfield
“We’re hoping to accomplish two things in this expedition. First, we want to document the habitat and the species that are vulnerable to the oil spills in oil disasters because OCEANA believes that this is not the only time we’re going to have an offshore oil disaster; we’re going to have more offshore oil disasters and places like Florida and the rest of the country and the rest of the world need to be aware of the types of habitats that can be affected by oil. Secondly, we’ll be looking for some of that underwater oil to see how much is still out there and in what concentrations it is and third, we’ll be looking directly at areas that probably have been affected by oil to see what we can observe about he impacts on the fish and on the corals and other habitat.”

Channel 5

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#386067 - 08/21/10 05:32 AM Re: Audrey Matura Shepherd’s OCEANA along BP oil spill [Re: Short]  
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The first leg of the findings in OCEANA’s two month research expedition to the Gulf will be announced on Tuesday. Mayor of San Pedro Town Elsa Paz has expressed grave concern about the impact of offshore drilling and will accompany Oceana, Nautica and other Oceana advocates including award winning actors Ted Danson and Morgan Freeman on Tuesday visit to Gulfport, Mississippi. OCEANA’s report will reveal its findings of vulnerable habitats from the Florida Keys to Panama City at risk from future oil spills as well as results of its project to tag whale sharks, a species at risk from the Gulf Oil disaster. Its corporate partner Nautica has reaffirmed its commitment to Oceana by donating one hundred thousand dollars to support the organizations upcoming deep water exploration efforts near the Deepwater Horizon wellhead. The team will be onboard the OCEANA latitude vessel and leave for the Gulf on Tuesday, August 24th.

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