Dispatches from the Gulf is a new Journey to Planet Earth episode showing how scientists confront the challenges of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. The documentary also investigates the impact of the event on the ecosystems and communities along the Gulf of Mexico.
Narrated by Matt Damon, "Dispatches" follows teams of GoMRI funded scientists, including ECOGIG researchers, as they investigate the oil spill's effect on the Gulf of Mexico- the world's ninth largest body of water. The group's ongoing goal is to discover new and better ways to mitigate and cope with future spills. Their collective studies have ultimately become the largest coordinated oceanographic research endeavor in history.
The film considers the socio-culturarl implications as well as scientific findings. It examines the impact of the Deepwater Horizon accident on local communities, from members of the tourism industry to families who rely on seafood such as shrimp and crab for their livelihood. "If ever a light bulb went off in all of our minds, it was that our economy is totally dependent on a clean, safe, useable environment," stresses Mayor Robert Craft of GulfShores, Alabama. "That is still our biggest concern."
The film also captures instances of exciting innovation: Biologists and oceanographers use remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and manned submersibles to study the effects of the oil on the ocean floor. Chemists and engineers design new laboratory techniques to understand the impact of the spill on fish species and how chemical dispersants interact with oil.
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Produced by Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Marilyn & Hal, Journey to Planet Earth is an award-winning television series that explores new ways of looking at the delicate relationship between people and the world they inhabit. The series is also designed to help viewers understand and cope with the complexities of the most important environmental issues of the 21st century.