Alaskans will not soon forget the image; thousands of sea birds and marine creatures floundering in mucky, sticky, foul-smelling oil drizzled and dumped in pristine Prince William Sound after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Some were saved, but many, many were not. I didn’t really care, then, that a dish soap played a part. After all, I was a college student buying the cheapest stuff to wash my dishes, if I found time to wash them at all, and brands like Dawn didn’t mean much. That changed soon after the spill.
I read that Dawn dish soap could cut the oil in feathers and fur, without ruining the natural oils so critical for survival. Everybody knew by 1990 that Dawn helped save the animals and birds of Prince William Sound, but it sort of faded away over time, as media frenzies often do. Until the Gulf spill 20+ years later. Then Dawn dish soap again became Dawn-the-saving-soap, and the wildlife preservation movement against oil-fouled marine mammals and birds hit full stride.
Friday, I will be exploring The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA with several other bloggers and journalists who share a mission to promote the stewardship of all that is pristine on our planet. Dawn dish soap has recruited us with a few goals in mind; to experience the day-to-day work of hundreds of TMMC staff and volunteers who get muddy, oily, fishy, and friendly with their charges, and to return to our home offices with new ideas for helping kids expand their depth of knowledge about how they can make a difference where ever, and whenever they are able.
I am the only Alaskan headed to this two-day event, and I’m both humbled and excited to be representing the communities most drastically affected by the spill, and the animals who never had a choice…
I’d like you to go along, AKontheGO’ers, so keep up with me via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram via the hashtag #DawnDayintheWildlife. It will undoubtedly be one of the most powerful experiences an Alaskan and marine mammal-fanatic could have.
I promise I’ll do good there, so I can come back and advocate the same, here.