Friday Lecture Series focuses on WGCU’s ‘Sea of Uncertainty’ film
There were no empty seats at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s Education Center on Jan. 21, as the first Friday Afternoon Lecture Series gathering in 2011 — a screening of the WGCU documentary “Sea of Uncertainty” and panel discussion with local conservation leaders — was a complete sell-out.
Sponsored by the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS) and the Refuge Nature Store, the program began with the short film produced by Donna Roberts, who was also in attendance.
A panel discussion with Judie Zimomra, Sanibel City Manager, Rae Ann Wessel, Natural Resource Policy Director of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, and “Ding” Darling Refuge Manager Paul Tritaik, followed the screening.
Released last fall, “Sea of Uncertainty” opens the door for continued dialogue about the potential long-term impact of the British Petroleum oil spill and the chemical dispersants used to eliminate the oil. An estimated five million barrels of crude oil began leaking into the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, and it took months to effectively cap the Deepwater Horizon drill site.
The film — which includes interviews with Zimomra, Wessel, Tritaik, SCCF’s Amanda Bryant and Eric Millbrandt, Maj. Michael Murray of the Sanibel Police Department and charter fishing Capt. Sandy Melvin — takes a look at the work of scientists at “Ding” Darling to generate baseline coastal data.
“Sea of Uncertainty” also investigates the role of other local agencies in providing long-term housing for and releasing displaced turtles and pelicans impacted by the oil, with footage of last summer’s release of rehabilitated birds at Algiers Beach.
While Bryant was interviewed regarding the effects the oil spill may have had on nesting sea turtles last season, Millbrandt talked about the impact the discharged chemicals may have on the marine ecology here in Southwest Florida.
“I’m very disappointed in our government, which should have been active from day one,” said Capt. Melvin, who noted that the area will likely see “residual effects for years to come.”
Additional highlights of the movie — which airs on WGCU public television — includes the work of groups from Boca Grande to Sanibel Island that hosted disaster workshops and training sessions to better respond in the event of another oil spill.
“Things aren’t as safe as we thought they were,” Tritaik told the crowd following the film, “so we have to do what we can to help make a difference.”
The documentary also sheds light on the efforts of environmental organizations working to change laws on off-shore drilling and encourage the use of renewable energy.
“We got very, very lucky that we didn’t have any hurricanes to hit the United States,” said Wessel, who suggested that if the oil had entered the loop current in the Gulf, the results could have been even more devastating. “It’s important to understand that there is still oil out there… and we still don’t know what it’s going to do.”
For more information on the Friday Afternoon Lecture Series, call 472-1100 ext. 241 or log on to www.dingdarlingsociety.org.