Ronaldo Bastos Francini Filho, Professor of Federal University of Paraíba, is one of the scientists on board Esperanza. The Greenpeace ship MY Esperanza is in the region of the Amazon river mouth to document the Amazon reef, a recently discovered and largely unknown biome that may be soon threatened by oil exploration. Ronaldo Bastos Francini Filho, professor da Universidade Federal da Paraíba, é um dos cientistas a bordo do navio Esperanza. Esperanza, um dos três navios do Greenpeace, está na região da foz do rio Amazonas, no Amapá, para a campanha “Defenda os Corais da Amazônia. O objetivo é observar debaixo d’água, pela primeira vez, os recifes.

Scientists tell BP: stay away from the Amazon Reef

A group of 40 scientists naturalists, explorers and broadcasters are sounding the alarm over oil companies’ spill threat to the Amazon Reef.

The experts have written an open letter highlighting the importance of this unique environment, and warning of the threat from an oil spill nearby. Australian signatories include Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Dr. Anthony W D Larkum and Dr. Emma Kennedy, as well as global public figures such as Liz Bonnin, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Pavan Sukhdev.

The priority should be to protect the reef and surrounding waters in order to conduct further research.

BP and Total are trying to get permission to drill for oil near the Amazon Reef, but this group of experts called for the companies’ plans to be put on hold. The letters says that “The priority should be to protect the reef and surrounding waters in order to conduct further research.”

This letter adds more pressure on BP and Total to cancel their plans to drill. So far, over a million people have signed the petition against oil drilling near the Amazon Reef, and more than 29,000 people have written to BP’s CEO in protest.

A fascinating puzzle

For ocean scientists, the Amazon Reef is a fascinating puzzle, full of new discoveries and surprising twists. In just a few days of exploring the reef, researchers think they found not only three potential new fish species , but also dozens more that had not been spotted in the area before. Scientists believe the Amazon Reef is also home to large numbers of critically endangered fish—yet another reason why an oil spill nearby would be devastating to the environment.

This first expedition only covered a tiny fraction of the 600 mile-long reef, so the biggest discoveries are likely still to come.

But BP and Total’s dangerous oil drilling plan could devastate this special place before we’ve had a chance to study it properly. There’s little evidence that the oil companies have taken the risk of a spill seriously, and they haven’t been able to show that they could deal with an accident in the strong currents and deep, murky waters near the mouth of the Amazon River.

You can see the full letter and list of signatories here.

Want to help stop BP and Total? Sign the petition to protect the Amazon Reef.