Requiem For A Duck

Texas. March 24, 2014. Twenty-five years after Alaska’s Exxon-Valdez disaster, on the threshold of migration, and 160,000 gallons of crude spill from a ruined tanker into Galveston Bay.

Eight miles.

Eight miles is all that separates black tar from the marshes of Bolivar—from thousands of resident waterfowl and waders who find shelter there to raise their young, from countless thousands of migrants who seek them out for replenishment and rest on their long journeys north.

Eight miles from where you made your home.

Even now, there are good people working tirelessly to save your kin, to clean oil from feathers, provide haven and relief. There are many others trying to contain the oil, direct it away from this critical habitat, reduce the impact, minimize the damage, lower the toll. Still others are working to raise awareness, to shift our nation’s priorities, challenge the status quo and change the way things are done.

And yet it’s not enough.

Wildlife rescuers were there in Prince William Sound in 1985. They were there in the Pribilofs in 1996. They were there in South Africa in 2000. They were there in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

And still it goes on.

And for that, I’m truly sorry. I’m sorry that we don’t learn from our mistakes. I’m sorry that we are too short-sighted to see the larger consequences of our ways. I’m sorry we don’t appreciate the wonders of the world around us, and that we don’t care enough to preserve them. I’m sorry for the wake of destruction we leave in our passing. I’m sorry we were too late to save you, that we will never meet, and that the last thing we’ll know about you is how you died.

I’m sorry.

When will we learn?