Acclaimed Journalists, Filmmakers Document USF's Oil Spill Exploration

Naomi Klein and Jacqueline Soohen document in articles and film a December research cruise aboard the R/V Weatherbird II.


By Vickie Chachere News


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Jan. 14, 2011) – The research at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science into the impact and aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has attracted worldwide attention and coverage from media organizations from CNN, NPR and National Geographic.

Now, their work exploring the lingering oil in the Gulf of Mexico and its potential impact on the environment is the focus of new work by internationally-acclaimed journalists and filmmakers Naomi Klein and Jacqueline Soohen.

In a collection of articles and mini-films for The Nation published this week, Klein and Soohen document a December research cruise aboard the R/V Weatherbird II led by chemical oceanographer David Hollander and a team of researchers who have been instrumental in documenting the existence of degraded BP oil suspended in the water and buried in the sediments, as well as investigating the toxic effects of the oil and dispersants on small organisms that make up the base of the Gulf food chain.

In the December cruise, the mystery of the impact of the spill on the Gulf deepened with the discovery of a black substance offshore of Alabama that continues to perplex researchers. Hollander says the organic material – which appears as a gooey black substance on the sea floor – is unlike anything researchers have seen. Laboratory tests are continuing to confirm its origins and if it has any relationship to the spill.

To read and view the full account of the cruise and Klein’s take on the BP oil spill, go to The Nation. Reports can also be viewed by clicking these links: Klein also told of her observations aboard the cruise during an appearance as a featured speaker at the TEDWomen event in Washington last month.

Reports can also be viewed by clicking these links:

-       Main article on the December research voyage.

-       Overview video report on the research voyage.

-       Article on black goo discovery.


Klein and Soohen are frequent collaborators in coverage of major events such as Hurricane Katrina, and are known for wading into danger zones in Iraq and Haiti to capture images and voices from the most troubled places on the planet.


Klein, once described by The New Yorker as “the most visible and influential figure on the American left—what Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky were thirty years ago” – has become one of the world’s most recognized voices speaking out on the interplay between corporations, governments, the public and the environment. She spent much of 2010 reporting and writing on the BP spill and is working on a new project examining climate change.

Klein is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and international bestseller No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies.  Her feature-length documentary about Argentina’s occupied factories, The Take, won the best documentary jury prize at the American Film Institute’s Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Soohen’s three feature films, Zapatista, Black and Gold and This Is What Democracy Looks Like have won top honors at hundreds of film festivals from New York, Toronto and Los Angeles.  As one of the founding members of the Independent Media Center, Soohen collaborated in cutting-edge daily satellite feeds from the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999, and two years later documented the history-making social justice movement of the Zapatistas in their march from the Lacandon Rainforest to Mexico City.

Vickie Chachere can be reached at 813-974-6251.