The Seven Seas Beach in Puerto Rico presents an array of beautiful sights to snorkelers. Brightly-colored fish swim past undulating plants in coral reefs. Some of the fish swim in schools, others are more solitary, but they all seem to coexist peacefully, navigating the ridges of the reefs somewhat more expertly than the land traffic on Route 3.
My muse and I enjoyed these sights while vacationing in Puerto Rico last week. The variety of ocean life just a few feet from the shoreline is stunning, and tourists only need a set of goggles, a snorkel and fins to experience it. And there is one group of people that particularly needs to experience it: Anyone who works for an oil company.
The inspiring scenes we saw beneath the sea contrasted sharply with the sad images of marine life destroyed by the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast. Based on what survivors from the blast are saying, the spill was caused at least in part by a corporate philosophy that focused too much on keeping costs down and too little about the risks of such a policy. For instance, an argument allegedly broke out on ill-fated vessel Deepwater Horizon because BP wanted to save time and money by using lighter water instead of heavier mud to keep oil from floating up.
BP and the Obama administration are now exploring proposal after proposal to contain the spill, and yet it seems something has been missing since the crisis began: An appreciation of the undersea world affected. When the cleanup work is done, BP should hold mandatory snorkeling trips for anyone who draws a paycheck from the company -- and other oil companies should do the same. Fostering an appreciation for the underwater world they work in might make companies more sensitive to avoiding future spills.