On Environmental Torture

Friday, June 18, 2010 - 10:22 AM

Heather Nevill (L), and fellow veterinarians clean an oil-covered brown pelican at the Fort Jackson Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Buras, Louisiana. (Getty Images/Getty)

The BBC’s Caroline Duffield said it this morning: the Niger Delta is plagued by continual oil spills, sustaining spills equivalent to the Exxon Valdez spill every year for the past 50 years. In talking about the horrors there, Caroline delivered a really heartbreaking image. In the place considered to be the world’s most oil-polluted area, she mentioned that you can see “silver frogs” covered with oil-related chemicals all throughout the waterways. It is a snapshot of the possible future of the Gulf of Mexico — poor poisoned animals coping with mutations and environmental torture.

Years ago, I remember seeing a picture of a sea turtle that swam into a floating bunch of garbage when it was young and became entangled in a plastic beer can ring. As it grew, the plastic ring remained lodged in its shell and the poor adult turtle’s shell was distorted into a horrific shape as though it were wearing some kind of abusive fashion accessory. The images in that dystopian Disney animated movie Wall-E were pretty sobering. I guess there’s no need for animation anymore. A silver frog in the muck says it all.

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