From the BBC:
19 October 2011 Last updated at 22:58
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.
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.