Boats Created to Help Gulf Wildlife Turned Away: Find Out Why

Disasters tend to bring out the best in human beings — but also the worst.

A prime example: boat makers Mark Castlow and Jimbo Meador wanted to help with the ongoing disaster in the Gulf region. The two business partners have seen firsthand the devastation to wildlife the BP Deepwater oil catastrophe has caused. The men were so motivated to help the defenseless creatures, they designed a boat, which allows for a faster and easier collection of the fowl.  

SWAT (Shallow Water Attention Terminal) is the acronym given to the innovative 17-foot-boat, which has a collapsable canopy that sprays cooling water. SWAT has the ability to ride in waterways as shallow as 8 to 10 inches deep, which allows for easier access to oiled birds and other wildlife victims of the BP disaster.  It also has a large work table, which allows for immediate treatment of suffering animals and the boat is equipped with internet access.

Wonderful, right?  Think again!  

Bureaucratic red tape has long caused our government to work in a state of inertia.  BP Corporation is apparently following suit.  Even though Castlow and Meador took it upon themselves to create the design plan, obtained financing from friend, Jimmy Buffet — yes, that Jimmy Buffet — and actually completed the prototype, SWAT boats will not be allowed in the water, says BP and the United States government.

Why?  Because the US Fish & Wildlife Service requires all organizations involved in the rescue of wildlife to have a permit. And in order to obtain that permit, the people involved in wildlife rescue must undergo a certain period of training. Now in theory, that sounds reasonable.  After all, no one wants to harm already injured wildlife any further. 

But here’s the reality: The BP Gulf catastrophe is far from over.  The oil is still gushing in the open sea and attempts to stop it have been less than successful.  Volunteers, like Castlow and Meador, are more than willing to do whatever it takes to ease the burden on wildlife struggling for survival against the toxic oil and dispersants.  So why is viable help being turned away?

Dragonfly Boatworks, the entrepreneurial offspring of Castlow and Meador, planned on donating the first of four SWAT boats to the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. Dragonfly Boatworks has since been informed the boats will not be used because GCRL does not have a permit to rescue wildlife suffering in the Gulf.

Carrying this to an extreme hypothesis: if a hurricane hit and you happen to see a child stranded on the beach do you a) go check and see if your lifesaving certification is up to date before running to the beach to start CPR or b) go over and retrieve that child while he is still alive with a chance for survival?  

Sarcasm aside, why not let the boats be sent to help?

Castlow is disappointed, but not downtrodden.  Earlier this week he started an organization called Dragonfly Environmental Army (DEA). Determined, he plans on finding a way to bring relief efforts and resources together for the Gulf victims.  

Good for you Mr. Castlow!  Now that’s good old-fashioned American ingenuity.

Would you like to be a part of Dragonfly Environmental Army?  Call 772-567-8835.

Read more: 
Care2 Coverage of BP Oil Spill

Source:  CNN

photo credit: Flickr: MindfulWalker


Josie Eldred
Josie Eldred6 years ago

Sigh, utterly ridiculous. I liked the analogy you used...when an emergency as severe as this one is occurring, you don't have time to fiddle about with training courses and permits and whatever else. If the boat has proven to be effective and the people using it know what they're doing, then they should be allowed to help as much as possible. It sounds like a wonderful idea, I'm really sorry to hear it's been turned away.

Ian MacLeod
Ian MacLeod6 years ago

Now here's a thought. Remember those turtles caught in one of their containment devices, a rescue boat right there, and BP refused to allow them in where they could save at least a few? They torched the oil right then and there. Or was it the turtles they torched? Turtles have a slow metabolism and a l long life. If there's some REALLY bad chemical in that water that shouldn't be there, COULDN'T be there except by intent, and and maybe it's something the est of the world should NEVER learn about. A lot of toxins are stored in fatty tissue, even bones, and a turtle exposed to something in the Gulf could be living proof of deliberate poisoning - or whatever such a chemical's purpose was - for a very long time. BP has been collecting and burning a LOT of animal carcasses; almost the sole real cleanup they seem interested in. I wonder what a chemical analysis of a few would show? Whatever's in this water IS going to get into some water tables, so in addition to other types of exposure, people will be drinking it. I wonder if there have been any tests of the water - just a total all-around analysis of what's in it might be a very good thing.


Ian MacLeod
Ian MacLeod6 years ago

This isn't "political stupidity" or anything of the sort. BP has something there that they so BADLY need to hide they don't care about anything else. It's the only thing that makes sense. I've heard things about this disaster having been "ginned up" to look worse or different from what it is, and there are those crying "False flag!" Whatever it is, knowing how much trouble people can and will make over this, they can't stop protecting. They're HIDING SOMETHING that MUST be hidden at all costs. Now we just need to find out what it is that's worth all the destruction, and the animals deaths and the damage and destruction to 1/3 or more of the world's oceans.


Animalib No Emails Please
.6 years ago

Ridiculous reasoning for not allowing them to rescue the animals.

However, why not just donate the boats to the wildlife rescue organizations that do have a permit and start the ball rolling?

Terry C.
Terri Chin6 years ago

So... did they apply for the permit to get the process moving?

Colleen L.
Colleen L.6 years ago

I think anyone and everything should be thrown at this devastation. There obviously is a lot that we are not to know about this problem. But really does it make sense to put the people that created the problem in charge of who gets to do what. How easy it is for bodies be hidden that way.

annelies j.
annelies j.6 years ago

Thanks for your post and info Linda F.
Maybe it would be better if we would all let the professionals deal with this, even-though it is very hard to just stand by and watch. I'm very frustrated too, and I hate to see any living being suffer, but for unprotected "helpers" to take such risks to save these creatures would just be adding to the problem maybe?

annelies j.
annelies j.6 years ago

If for some reason you can't check that link, it turns out our President did overturn the Jones act! I feel pretty stupid for not doing the research on that, before posting my comment on that!
Oops, SORRY!!!

annelies j.
annelies j.6 years ago

someone just emailed me this!

Linda F.
Linda F.6 years ago

There's many other examples and many other excuses.

Local PERMITTED wildlife rescue organizations with tons of equipment and trained experienced that have worked spills in this area for decades are not being allowed to participate for very inappropriate unprofessional reasons.

Another excuse is that they can't manage more people, that they don't have enough boats for more people. But these organizations can manage themselves and can bring boats.

And there are islands and marshes that have hardly been visited for cleanup or for wildlife rescue. Visit this blog for info and photos of what's not being done:

It's an excellent blog free of any attempts to put a false positive spin on what's going on.