Noah's Ark for Northwest Florida

By: Whitney Ray
By: Whitney Ray

Owners of a Northwest Florida marine lab are rushing to gather animals and bacteria from the Gulf of Mexico, in anticipation of oil destroying the delicate ecosystem. The scientists are calling their project Noah’s Ark and collecting the samples will help speed up the recovery in the gulf.

It’s a battle against time for Marine Biologist Jack Rudloe, who is rushing to collect shrimp, oysters and anything else he can fit in a tank before the oil hits.

“The ability to even put back one or two, or two of everything else like that, may be absolutely futile but who knows.”

The project is called Noah’s Ark; Jack and his wife Anne have already collected dozens of animals in their Gulf Specimen Marine Lab at Panacea, Fl. But the lab doesn’t have enough room to hold the thousands of gallons of salt water needed to support the massive herding effort… and that’s not all that’s lacking.

Noah’s Ark will take lots of man hours and lots of money. The lab is asking for half a million dollars, but so far BP isn’t willing to pay. So the lab has spent 30-thousand of its own dollars to get the project moving by cleaning up this abandoned shrimp hatchery and pumping sea water from a mile away into huge tanks.

“The purpose of this is sustainability, to hold these things and then as needed and in the appropriate places, start releasing some of this stuff back into the environment.”

And while the focus is on protecting and preserving marine life research grinds to a halt, the lab ships gulf coast specimens to universities across the county, the backlog keeps building.

“So far this month we are running at about 50 percent below where we were last year, mostly because of orders like these that we could get if we could get to do it, but we are preparing for the oil spill instead.”

And right now there’s no guarantee the lab will get any help from BP to make up for the lost revenues. The Gulf Specimen Marine Lab began asking BP for money for the Noah’s Ark project on May 10th; so far their request has been ignored because it’s not a claim based on damage.


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