Things That Matter

MYSTERY: Brazilian Beaches Overwhelmed With 600 Tons of Crude Oil

For nearly two months now, thick black sludge has been washing up on the shores of northern Brazil, and nobody is any closer to determining, and stopping, the leak at its source.  Brazil had deployed 1,500 troops to aid in the cleanup process, but without much effect. The oil is just below the surface, which renders typical tracking and cleanup measures useless. In response, troops and volunteers’ only option is to clean up the oil as it washes ashore. Still, experts predict that 600 tons of crude oil have washed ashore since September, killing wildlife and threatening already precarious coral reef systems.

Vice President Hamilton Mourão announced Monday that an additional 5,000 troops would be deployed to aid in the cleanup process.

Over 200 beaches have been affected, making it the worst oil spill in the country’s history.

Senator Humberto Costa, who represents one of the affected regions, has accused President Jair Bolsonaro of neglect in public statements, tweets, and even memes. In a tweet, he said, “The price of neglect is very high. And the Northeast is paying this bill.” He’s even gone so far as to say, “This government is an enemy of the environment.” 

Many other environmental groups agree that the federal response was irresponsibly slow. The government effectively sent one troop per mile of the affected coastline. Nearly two months later, it has sent an additional 5,000 troops.

Even soccer players are using their field time to demonstrate against slow federal response.

During a soccer match this week, both competing teams altered their uniforms in protest of the oil spills. Bahia opted to wear their typically bright blue and red striped jerseys with black oil spill streaks along the side. Ceara wore black gloves, to represent the black caked gloves thousands of Brazilians have worn in lieu of paid federal employees. Some had even used their bare hands, a major health risk.

Images from the scene are heartwrenching.

Countless numbers of wildlife have perished in the last seven weeks of ongoing oil pollution. Sea turtles are washing ashore with thick black oil coating their bodies. Brazilian volunteers rush to remove the oil from their airways, and under their fins while the turtles helplessly wait for the ordeal to be over. The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources reported at least 24 sea turtles having washed up covered in oil. The spill couldn’t come at a worse time for sea turtles. 

Scientists are expecting roughly 800,000 baby turtles to hatch and make their way into the vast ocean. Some have already started hatching, and researchers from Projeto Tamar are trying to catch thousands of baby turtles as we report this. So far, they have released 1,000 olive ridley baby sea turtles 15 miles off the coast into clean ocean water. Scientists don’t know if they’ll be able to return to the beach to lay their eggs without having “imprinted” their walk into the ocean. 

Volunteers have found dead seabirds, fish, turtles and even dolphins … all covered in oil.

Otherwise pristine Brazilian beaches are now scarred with thick black streaks that display their dead. A nearby coral reef, which had just recovered from a near ecosystem-shattering bleaching event, is now covered in black oil. While the efforts to clean up beaches are a band-aid for the root cause, Brazilian officials have no other option. They don’t know where the oil is coming from.

Oil forensics are pointing toward a Venezuelan source.

Regardless of political governmental boundaries, oil comes from the earth, and carry distint chemical fingerprints that allow scientists to determine the geologic origin. That said, the oil washing up on Brazilian shores has already been exposed to water and UV rays, which can alter the chemical makeup, making it more difficult to identify. 

Still, independent labs have corroborated Brazil’s claim that the oil is likely from Venezuela. That, however, doesn’t mean the criminal activity is stemming from Venezuela. “This oil is Venezuelan. Its DNA is Venezuelan. This is certain. It’s a certainty, not speculation,” Ibama President Eduardo Bim announced at a Senate hearing. “Does that mean that Venezuela is responsible? No, that is a separate question.”

In the aftermath of slow response to quell Amazon rainforest fires, many are suspicious of Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro had publicly declared his ambivalence toward protecting the Amazon rainforest for both indigenous people and environmental purposes. Since his presidency, Bolsonaro has rolled back environmental protections in favor of Big Ag development instead. One Twitter user exclaimed, “This is crazy, first the Amazon rainforest burning down to ashes now this … Something is not right here!”

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This Brazilian Mother And Daughter Share A Rare Beauty Mark In The Form Of White Locks


This Brazilian Mother And Daughter Share A Rare Beauty Mark In The Form Of White Locks

It’s not every day that we get to see beauty this rare or so brightly celebrated.

Two-year-old Mayah and her daughter Talyta Youssef Aziz Vieira both share a rare genetic condition that means they have a white forelock that makes them look like X-men’s Rogue. Now, their unique traits are going viral and being celebrated on social media.

The mother and daughter pair both have white streaks in their hair due to a genetic condition called Piebaldism.

Talyta, who is from Jericoacoara, Brazil gave birth to daughter Mayah in 2018. According to Daily Mail, the mother was not at all surprised to find out that the two shared the rare trait that gives them two different hair colors. According to Talyta, the genetic condition was passed on to her grandfather, mother, aunt, and cousins, all of whom were born with piebaldism. The genetic condition is characterized by the absence of cells called melanocytes in particular regions of the skin and hair.

According to Talyta’s Instagram page, the young mother said that in her younger years she attempted to hide the white streaks in her hair.

Soon enough, and fortunately, Talyta came to appreciate the trait. Even better? The mother says her daughter has fully embraced her hair mark and enjoys dressing up as Disney character Cruella de Vil while the two watch 101 Dalmatians together.

According to Daily Mail, Talyta says “Piebaldism runs in our family so we knew there was a high probability that Mayah would also have it… From the moment she was born, Mayah had so many white hairs on the front of her head. My doula posted a picture on social media and days later, we were invited by a photographer to do a photo shoot.”

It didn’t take long for the pictures to go viral online.

“I tried to hide my white hair until my twenties. I’d hide it behind other strands – worried that people would bully me,” Taylta explained “I soon realized though that I was unique and special. I want to set that example for Mayah. People always stop us to say how special she is.”

Fortunately, Mayah will have a chance to see someone who looks like her on the big screen soon.

While Mayah’s features have been compared to Rogue from X-Men and Anna from Frozen, the little girl will get a chance to see Cruella in Disney’s soon to be released feature about the villain.

‘That’s when I thought it would be a lovely idea for us to dress up together as those characters. I want Mayah to have fun memories about the way she looks,” Taylta explained about her images of her daughter on Instagram “I want her to embrace being a superhero. Other people who are different have reached out to us thanking us for helping them accept themselves. It’s so sad that people have hid themselves away. We don’t need to be the same to be beautiful. Everyone has a heart inside to accept and love. We are living in a time of knowledge and transformation. Let’s embrace what makes us different.”

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A Brazilian Photographer Is Documenting Indigenous Tribes In The Amazon


A Brazilian Photographer Is Documenting Indigenous Tribes In The Amazon

Indigenous tribes are the most important connection between man and nature. These tribes have lived off the land before modern society and many have never interacted with modern society. Ricardo Stuckert is going through and documenting the indigenous Amazonian tribes in Brazil.

Ricardo Stuckert is photographing indigenous tribespeople in the Brazilian Amazon.

The indigenous community is something sacred that most people agrees should be protected. They are more connected to the land than we are. Their customs and traditions are more ingrained in this world than ours are and it is so important to protect them.

The indigenous community of Brazil has been subjected to horrible attacks and conditions from the Brazilian government.

One of the most widespread attacks against the indigenous Brazilians living in the Amazon has been for the land. President Jair Bolsonaro has tried to take land away from the indigenous communities to allow for logging and mining. A bill he sent to the congress sought to exploit the land for commercial purposes, even legalizing some of the attacks we have seen on indigenous people since President Bolsonaro took power.

Stuckert wants to preserve the indigenous culture and customs through photos.

“I think it is important to disseminate Brazilian culture and show the way that native peoples live today,” Stuckert told DailyMail. “In 1997, I started to photograph the Amazon and had my first contact with the native people of Brazil. Since then, I have tried to show the diversity and plurality of indigenous culture, as well as emphasize the importance of the Indians as guardians of the forest. There are young people who are being born who have never seen or will see an Indian in their lives.”

The photographer believes that using photography is the best way to share culture.

“I think that photography has this power to transpose a culture like this to thousands of people,” Stuckert told DailyMail. “The importance of documentary photojournalism is to undo stigmas and propagate a culture that is being lost. We need to show the importance of indigenous people to the world, for the protection of our forests.”

You can see all of Stuckert’s photos on his Instagram.

Stuckert’s work to documented the indigenous community is giving people an insight into a life many never see. Brazil is home to about 210 million people with around 1 million having indigenous heritage. The diverse indigenous community of Brazil is something important to showcase and that’s what Stuckert is doing.

READ: Indigenous Photographer Diego Huerta’s Photos Of Oaxaca’s Indigenous People Celebrates Their Beauty

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