BP oiled pelicans photo wins prize

Brown pelicans oiled by BP

From the BBC:

19 October 2011 Last updated at 22:58

Oiled pelicans photo takes top prize

By Jonathan Amos

Science correspondent, BBC News

It is a picture that seems at first to be quite beautiful. Only as the eye lingers do you fully realise its shocking context.

This image of brown pelicans smothered in oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill has earned Daniel Beltra the title of Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) 2011.

“They are so afraid, and yet they still seem so elegant,” Daniel told BBC News.

WPY is one of the most prestigious competitions in world photography.

Organised by London’s Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine, it is now in its 47th year. See more images here.

Daniel Beltra, who hails from Spain, entered an exceptional portfolio of pictures entitled The Price of Oil into the WPY’s photojournalist category, which he also won. Most were aerial shots of the Gulf of Mexico slick and the desperate efforts made following the blow-out to clean up the mess; but it is the pelican portrait that stands out.

The birds are seen clustered in a box at a rescue facility in Fort Jackson, Louisiana. At that moment, the animals had just gone through the first stage of cleaning, which involved spraying them with a light oil to break up the heavy crude trapped in their feathers. The resulting smelly, mucky residue dripped from the birds’ plumage on to a white sheet.

“The problem with birds is that as soon as they get dirty, they try to clean themselves, which means they swallow a lot of oil. By November 2010, I think they had recovered over 6,000 dead birds,” Daniel said.

“There was a closed door on the box. Every so often it would be opened and a bird would be taken out to be cleaned properly. I had a 35mm lens and when that door was opened, I would look in and grab three or four shots. The intent was not to disturb them any more than was necessary.”

Judge Rosamund Kidman Cox said the image would make people sit up.

“It is an ‘oil painting’,” she said. “The colours really make you think you are looking at a painting and then it hits you, what it is you’re actually looking at. It has a very strong environmental message; it says everything,” she told BBC News.

The BBC article does not mention the two letters “BP” even once; though it does mention the name of corporate contest sponsor Veolia Environnement; which, in spite of its name, is not that environment friendly. Their sponsorship looks suspiciously like greenwashing.

Though maybe Veolia is not as bad a sponsor of the competition as the earlier sponsor of the prize Shell; which very recently polluted the North Sea.

Greenpeace reaction to the award: here.

Following Complaints From Gulf, Congress Seeks Audit of BP Oil Spill Fund. Maria Recio, McClatchy Newspapers: “Republican Sens. Roger Wicker of Mississippi and Marco Rubio of Florida, unhappy with the handling of the $20 billion fund set up by BP to compensate victims of the 2010 Gulf oil spill, won Senate approval Friday for an independent audit of the organization. The move amounts to a slap at Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, who has been criticized for the lack of transparency in the distribution of funds and the way the calculations of the payments are made”: here.

BP boss Bob Dudley claimed today that the firm had reached a “definite turning point” as he revealed massive third-quarter profits: here.


22 thoughts on “BP oiled pelicans photo wins prize

  1. Locals call BP’s feel-good Gulf ads ‘propaganda’

    Advertising blitz touts recovery of tourism, fishing industries after massive spill


    updated 1/8/2012 2:24:03 PM ET

    NEW ORLEANS — Nearly 20 months after its massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill — and just as Americans focus on New Orleans, host of the college football championship game — BP is pushing a slick nationwide public relations campaign to persuade Americans that the Gulf region has recovered.

    BP PLC’s rosy picture of the Gulf, complete with sparkling beaches, booming businesses, smiling fishermen and waters bursting with seafood, seems a bit too rosy to many people who live there. Even if the British oil giant’s campaign helps promote the Gulf as a place where Americans should have no fear to visit and spend their money, some dismiss it as “BP propaganda.”

    The PR blitz is part of the company’s multibillion dollar response to the Gulf oil spill that started after the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana on April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and leading to the release of more than 200 million gallons (760 million liters) of oil. As engineers struggled to cap the out-of-control well, it turned into the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

    Now, BP is touting evidence that the Gulf’s ecology has not been severely damaged by the spill and highlighting improving economic signs.

    “I’m glad to report that all beaches and waters are open for everyone to enjoy!” BP representative Iris Cross says in one TV spot to an upbeat soundtrack. “And the economy is showing progress, with many areas on the Gulf Coast having their best tourism season in years.”

    The campaign, launched just before Christmas, has ramped up for the two-week period around the Sugar Bowl and Bowl Championship Series title game to be played on Monday between Louisiana State University and Alabama.

    The company is paying chefs Emeril Lagasse and John Besh to promote Gulf seafood, it’s hired two seafood trucks to hand out fish tacos and seafood-filled jambalaya to the hundreds of thousands of tourists and fans pouring into the city for the football games and it’s spreading its messages at galas, pre-game parties and vacation giveaways.
    Advertise | AdChoices

    But the ad campaign rings hollow to many folks here.

    “They talk about areas being all open. There are areas that are still closed,” said A.C. Cooper, a shrimp fisherman in Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana. He listed some bays and fishing spots that he says the state still has closed due to oil contamination. “It’s bogus, it’s not the truth.”

    He added that last fall’s shrimp harvest was dismal. “The numbers on our shrimp are way down,” he said. “They (BP) make it sound like they’re doing a lot, but they’re not doing much to help the fishermen out … I got good fishermen struggling to pay their bills right now.”

    The head of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, a commercial shrimpers group, called it “BP propaganda.”

    “When you have a lot of money, you can pretty much get any point across,” Clint Guidry complained. “It’s kind of like indoctrination.”

    And businesses on the tourism-dependent Mississippi Gulf Coast say people aren’t flocking in.

    For example, Bridgette Varone, head of the Gulf Coast chapter of the Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association, said restaurants reported similar revenues in both 2010 and 2011 for the month of June, one of the busiest months.

    “I wish we had better news to report,” Varone said. “We didn’t blow any socks off.”

    “They might not blatantly lie in the ad, but the true story is far less shiny, and far more troubling,” said Aaron Viles of the Gulf Restoration Network, a New Orleans-based environmental group.

    He said the spill may have caused a decrease in shrimp harvests and abnormalities in killifish, a minnow. He noted that oil was still marring some marshes and was buried under some beaches. He also said Congress had not done enough to regulate offshore drilling and assure the long-term recovery of the Gulf.

    “BP needs to put these facts in their ads,” Viles said.

    Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


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