Dadgummit. They got the ducks again.
Any child of the ’80s will recall that episode of Saved by the Bell–the episode that impacted young minds more powerfully than any other [save perhaps the one wherein Jessie had a drug-induced nervous breakdown]. It was the the time when Bayside struck oil and decided to hire an oil company to drill on the football field; the plan was to make Bayside High a first-rate prep school with the oil profits. Unfortunately, there was an oil spill that caused the deaths of the entire student population’s science projects: Becky the Duck, in particular.
Even before I found these photos online, I could clearly envision the sight of that poor dead duck, black and slick with spilled oil that had invaded her home–the nearby pond. She was dead–dead…and all because of the greediness of humanity. I must have only been six or seven when I first saw that episode, yet the images were so real and urgent that I have remembered them vividly after 15 years.
And now it’s happened again, only in real life. Only this time it wasn’t an oil spill that was to blame–it was an oil wasteland. These wastelands are toxic ponds, which are the dump sites for Syncrude™, a northern Alberta oil sand company (there’s sand up there that is saturated with oil and people dedicate their lives to the extraction of this finite resource [hence “oil sands”]). In other words, there are specific designated areas for Syncrude™ to dump their toxic sludge. That’s all fine and well, except for the 500 migrating ducks which landed in the toxic waste on Monday, all but five of which became oil-logged and sank almost immediately. These designated toxic areas that are not new; they’ve been a part of the company since its beginnings. In fact, Syncrude™ spokespeople claim this is the first time the birds have landed in 30 years. They seem to consider this a positive point–I think they should be embarrassed. Shouldn’t they know by now that this is not okay?
It also begs the question, “If Syncrude™ has been dealing with migrating fowl for at least 30 years, what was the major oversight this season, that wiped out entire flocks of living animals?”
See, normally the oil company places sonic-wave noisemakers [pictured above, from aquaticeco.com] in the vicinity of the hazardous areas, which serve to deter flying animals from landing thereabouts. This season, it was snowing. Snowing. Evidently it was snowing a great deal–it would have to be, since that is Syncrude’s™ only excuse for their oversight. On the other hand, the ducks were still flying around up there; how bad a snowfall could it have been? And if it was, in fact, snowing too heavily for the ducks to fly, it has since stopped; surely there was enough time to prepare for the annual migration.
Anyway, I think it’s all a load of nonsense, and I hope Syncrude™ learns from their mistake (hopefully a lesson in the form of a mega-fine, which could amount to $1,000,000, according to the New York Times). It should not be happening. There is absolutely no excuse for such ignorance. A lot of people (my older sister, for sure) will be inclined to think, “Oh, Camille, it’s just 500 ducks. Canada has lots more where those came from. You’re overreacting.” But that is exactly the mentality we need to fight:
If you’re going to take a passive stand, you may as well just lay back down.
The future of our planet is at stake. Our ecosystem is fragile enough without these monstrous companies killing off hundreds of animals…even if it is only every 30 years.