Well, there has been another significant pause in blogging, for which I am sorry to my three loyal fans. While I could again point to my diminishing faculties and challenge with coming up with new and interesting information to relay to folks, this delay is due primarily to my rotating off of the spill on Thursday 24 Jun, replaced by the eminent Dr. Teri Rowles. After my being on for 9 weeks (minus one for good behavior) and over 750 work hours, we are moving towards a rotation schedule for the OMTU Leader position of 2 weeks on, 4 off (more or less – more more than less would be my guess).
I actually began this blog on Wednesday prior to my departure, but did not get far. I was having significantly difficulties articulating my conflicting emotions on leaving. On the one hand, I was greatly looking forward to seeing my family again, sleeping in my own bed, enjoying more than just a fleeting glimpse of World Cup, and getting reacquainted with the Wildlife Health Center staff who so willingly supported my capacity to assist on this response. I was leaving the program in very capable hands, with Teri rotating in, Kaiti continuing to provide critical logistical help, Alexis Gutierrez coming back, and Brent Norberg (from the NW region) helping on the mammal side. Large-scale efforts on a number of fronts were progressing as smoothly as possible, including (among others) a plan to relocate all turtle nests in the FL panhandle to a facility on FL’s Atlantic coast, getting observers onto Controlled Burn teams in the Gulf, and expanding on-water turtle collection efforts.
However, the job wasn’t (and isn’t) done. There are still daily issues that crop up that require quick action. Curve balls are more the norm than continuous fast balls (or, in parlance more in tune with my preferences, the goal is continuing to get peppered by excellent outside shots all over the pitch). Typically at this stage in a spill, response activities are winding down (or at least are fully understood). Not so here. So my departing even for a 3-4 week period leaves me conflicted.
So I was not able to complete the blog on that day, thinking I could further ponder this issue, come to some resolution (at least in my mind), package it as an instructional yet pithy entry, and get to it in transit the following day. Not so much. I found my seat on the plane, perused the Sky Mall catalog (who buys that stuff anyway?), and about 5 minutes later woke in Denver. I have spoken previously about the time warp that exists in spills where you begin to work on something at the ICC at 0800 and 5 minutes later it is 1100. Well, this has nothing on the fracture in the time-space continuum which exists on a return trips from spills. I then figured I had plenty of time during my layover, then on the next leg. Well, in finding free WiFi in Denver (thank goodness!), I dealth with the 34 emails that had arisen while I was in the air, then reboarded. This time the Sky Mall was safe (as was my bank account), as I fell asleep on takeoff. Needless to say, the blog just wasn’t going to happen on the return trip.
The next day, I started from scratch from Davis, compiling the details of the previous week. The progress being made on other at-sea captures. The excellent care being provided at all of our facilities on the more than 90 live oiled turtles. The wonderful people that I am fortunate to work with. The fact that the South really isn’t set up for vegetarians. But I was still unsettled – it was clear I was still trying to decompress and resolve this conflict yet step back and allow the response to continue without my helping to lead it. I was still on the conference calls, dealing with more emails on new and ongoing issues, supplies and staffing, etc., so it was almost like I was still there. Yet I wasn’t.
So, I gave it a few more days to try and then give my thoughts on what the spill has meant to me (to date), where things are at, and where things are going. However, it became clear that those ideas aren’t formed enough for me to be able to articulate them clearly. This is definitely not due to concerns related to the existing and future staffing for the OMTU – far from it. I had hoped that some space and distance would allow these reflections to come more into focus (hence the range of dates on the title), but they have not. The oil keeps spilling, the risk is still great for the species we are all caring so much about and working so hard towards saving, the conference calls and emails still occur, and the scheduling for all of our returns (even when we rotate off) continues onward.
So, here we are – a blog about nothing (Seinfeld would be so proud!). At this point, it appears I will still stay closely linked to the OMTU from Davis (allowing me to keep the OWCN moving forward as best we can and keeping a high level of readiness should something happen in CA) and will likely return to Houma in mid to late July. I hope that during this time I can better capture my thoughts on these topics to share. In the meantime, I will be posting more in the way of articles, opinion pieces from other responders, key activities that the OMTU are involved with, and give the best info possible on the activities as they relate to mammals and turtles during the response.
Thank you to everyone for your support, good thoughts and wonderful emails and comments during the past several months!