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Buffett’s S.W.A.T. Boat Put to Good Use

August 5th, 2010

Jimmy Buffett’s donated boat is being put to good use by the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Lab in fighting the BP oil spill:

“We’ve been looking for oiled wildlife, birds primarily. Fortunately, we’ve not seen any at all,” said Don Abrams, Volunteer Coordinator with GCRL. “I think Mr. Buffett was very interested in helping out oil wildlife, but we haven’t seen any problems here.”

So since the beginning of July, the boat has taken on different duties. It’s now part of the new GCRL Shoreline Sentinels Program. Several times a week, volunteers take the boat on patrol around the marshes of Ocean Springs and the Biloxi Bay.

“Looking at them from the water side and we’re able to put another pair of eyes on them. Something you can’t see from the shore,” said Abrams.

“Damaged fencing, or booms, things of that nature,” said GCRL Shoreline Sentinels Program Coordinator Read Hendon. “There was one instance that they found oil in the marsh all around from Marsh Point.”

The 17-foot SWAT boat is designed to navigate around shallows waters where larger Vessels of Opportunity can’t reach.

“Bridging the gap between those vessels and the beach walk and cleanup crews that have been walking the beaches,” said Hendon.

The boat is also being used by USM faculty and students for marsh research. It’s on stand-by to help the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service respond to any wildlife emergencies. And the Pascagoula River Audubon Center plans to use the boat for future bird surveys.

Read more about the S.W.A.T. boat effort here.

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