Return to Transcripts main page
Diving Into the Oily Gulf of Mexico; LeBron James Chooses Miami; Swimming Through BP's Oil
Aired July 09, 2010 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: It's 4:00. You're watching CNN.
This is special coverage that we're providing for you now from the Gulf of Mexico. It is what we believe is the first live report from under the surface in the Gulf of Mexico to try and capture exactly what the situation is there.
Our crew there, Amber Lyon and Philippe Cousteau, don't know that they have been on TV all -- this long. They are presuming that they're about to start their report, when, in fact, we're even listening to their audio checks.
At any moment now, we are going to try to signal them, so they can actually begin reporting to us about what their impressions are of the area below the surface of the water there in the Gulf of Mexico. So, I'm going to pipe down.
Chad is here with me. From time to time, we will just let you know what we need to know -- what you may need to know. Other than that, why don't we just listen in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. I want you to start (INAUDIBLE) CNN top side. (INAUDIBLE) Amber and Philippe, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger that.
PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, CEO, EARTHECHO INTERNATIONAL: Well, Amber, this is a little bit of what I expected, actually.
AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know. It's crazy.
We're about 48 miles away from the Deepwater Horizon spill. And if you look in the water, you can see that it's cloudy right now. All these little pieces in front of us, it just looks like -- almost like you shook a tree or some kind of little (INAUDIBLE) There's just little particles here all through the water.
COUSTEAU: (INAUDIBLE) That's it. It's a mixture. It's kind of like there's lots of little bits of red and (INAUDIBLE) chemical dispersant mixed in with all of this organic material that's floated through the water column, little jellyfish and other creatures.
And that's what's so concerning about this, because the oil isn't (INAUDIBLE) surface. It is distributing throughout the water column. And it's springtime, this critical time of year, when fish and other organisms are breeding and laying eggs into the water and it's floating through it. As it encounters this oil, oil is toxic down to one part per billion (INAUDIBLE) fish eggs (INAUDIBLE) deadly toxin.
COUSTEAU: And so what we're seeing here, even though it's not that big slick of oil, this is still a big, big problem.
LYON: And I think that's what everyone is telling us. This is the hidden oil of the oil spill.
You can clearly see it in front of us, just stringlets of it. And it's one of those things that -- where you have skimmers up top, skimmers, you know, can skim all the oil off the surface or in a marsh (AUDIO GAP) but this oil is just going to remain here until nature takes its course. And (INAUDIBLE) right now because it almost appears like there is some type of a mirror image over you. Are you seeing that when you look at me?
COUSTEAU: Well, as (INAUDIBLE) was saying earlier, I have been out here, too, and at this time of the year, this should be absolutely crystal-clear blue water.
And it's got this kind of (INAUDIBLE) color, in which (INAUDIBLE) through the water (INAUDIBLE) but the best that we can tell is that was that chemical dispersant that's mixing into the water column. But we're not sure.
And that is the really scary part about this whole experience is that the chemical dispersants (INAUDIBLE) almost two million gallons into the Gulf (INAUDIBLE) million gallons of oil that's come into the Gulf from the Deepwater spill has -- has never happened before. This is completely unprecedented.
LYON: I know. And it was so interesting, because we were talking with the boat captain, and he comes (INAUDIBLE) and goes scuba diving. And he said the first thing he noticed, how we knew there was a problem here, is that there weren't any bait fish swimming around.
COUSTEAU: There's a couple little baby sharks that are swimming around us.
LYON: Oh, my gosh. There are some sharks right above us.
COUSTEAU: (INAUDIBLE) Nothing to worry about, though. Don't worry.
LYON: Philippe, is there anything that you're seeing right now (INAUDIBLE) that you're surprised about?
COUSTEAU: What's that?
LYON: Is there anything that you're seeing that you're surprised about?
COUSTEAU: Yes, I think what I'm really concerned (AUDIO GAP) about almost two months ago, and we were closer to the Deepwater Horizon rig.
So it was thicker oil in the water column. There was sludge on the surface. And I know we have been looking for that today. And it's out there, too much of it.
But what I'm really scared of, this is -- this is equally horrifying to the thick oil that you see so much on television --
COUSTEAU: -- because this is this insidious cancer that's spreading through the Gulf, this -- this dispersant that's mixing into the water column, this oil that's mixing into the water column.
LYON: You know what? I really hope this is safe because my mask is leaking right now. And I'm -- literally have water flowing in my eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amber, do you need to come up?
LYON: No. I'm good. Watch. The cool thing about this is, look, if I hit this button, I can clear my mask.
SANCHEZ: You know, it's interesting.
Rick Sanchez here in the -- in the world headquarters of CNN in Atlanta. For those of you just now joining us, we have Amber Lyon, our correspondent, and Philippe Cousteau underwater, getting the very first live impressions and reporting as such about what the effect is of, A, the dispersants and the oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
I believe there is a producer on the boat who can hear us and then can redirect my questions to them, if they can. Can they hear me on the boat right now, Angie? They can.
The -- the question that Chad and I would like them -- because we have no sense as Americans when we look at this to know the difference between what these waters are like now to what they may have been like under normal conditions, whatever that is.
So, the question to them needs to be very simple. How is what they're seeing and experience now -- how is what they're seeing and experiencing now different from normal conditions? Take us through it. Can you relay that question to them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amber and Philippe? Amber and Philippe (INAUDIBLE) can you hear me (INAUDIBLE)
LYON: Yes, Eric, I can hear you.
Our producer is talking to us right now. What's up, Eric?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
Rick wants to know, what are we seeing now or looking at now, and how does it compare with what you should be seeing?
Philippe, you have seen down there before. Amber (INAUDIBLE) what should we be seeing there and what are seeing there?
LYON: OK. So, the big question is, what should we be seeing here and what are we seeing?
COUSTEAU: Well, what we should be seeing is beautiful, crystal- clear water as we're swimming out here in the Gulf at this time of the year. We should not be seeing this thick haze.
It's hard to pick up with a camera, but what you see floating down, little globs of oil and chemical dispersant that forms into chunks. We're also seeing a lot of organic material that's floating in the water, too.
But it should be a lot clearer. Along the surface on the ride here, we saw those big patties of deep orange, weathered orange and chemical dispersant mix (INAUDIBLE) orange chemical dispersant mix on the surface. You can (INAUDIBLE) 60 miles or so from the deepwater rig.
And it's just coming down and collecting throughout the water column. And that's very concerning, because you know, when -- the last time I was (INAUDIBLE) in the oil spill, we didn't know. The science yet hadn't been conducted to prove that there was this water/chemical/oil mixture that was descending through the water column.
Now we have done the science. We know that's true for a whole host of reasons, because it's toxic. It depletes the oxygen in the water column, et cetera. It's very, very bad news.
LYON: -- because I was talking to BP's COO, Doug Suttles, and I asked him about all this dispersant/oil mix that's in the water.
And one of the main things I said is, how is it going to be cleaned up? Because there is no technology to come down here and skim this out of here. And what he said is that bacteria will eat it all up, and that's what's going to happen to the dispersed oil.
Now, you're disagreeing with that. You say it's toxic?
COUSTEAU: Yes. The COREXIT 9500 dispersant --
LYON: -- in the water?
COUSTEAU: It is. Well, first of all, the oil and the dispersant is toxic. (INAUDIBLE) But, second of all, yes, there is bacteria that consumes oil in the water. What scientists are finding is that bacteria also consumes oxygen, so that when you get these dead zones that don't have enough oxygen literally in the water column for all the other animals, like the fish and the crabs and the shrimp, to be able to breathe, so, literally, animals are suffocating underwater.
And that's the huge concern, this spreading throughout the Gulf like a cancer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) (AUDIO GAP)
SANCHEZ: All right. Let's take a break, if we can, just pay our bills. And we will have the folks there.
And, by the way, for those of you who are wondering, we have got people around them. We're checking on them from a security standpoint. We're making sure that they're perfectly safe, and we have been -- as you can see, we're able to communicate with them throughout the process as well.
Unbelievable, Chad. I don't -- I have done a lot of interviews and I have asked people -- a lot of people different questions throughout my career.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes.
SANCHEZ: But I have never asked someone a question who was actually underwater at the time.
MYERS: Well, and in a normal suit and with a normal regulator, you can't, because you have this thing in your mouth and you can't talk.
MYERS: So, that's why this is so impressive, is that they are completely encased in this hazmat suit, including the hood, so that they can actually talk, while getting oxygen at the same time.
SANCHEZ: I'm surprised it's going as well as it is.
SANCHEZ: Let's take a quick break, pay some of our bills. You are watching a special edition of RICK'S LIST from underneath the Gulf of Mexico. We are going to be right back.
SANCHEZ: All right. We got the pictures back. Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez here, along with Chad Myers.
That's -- underwater, that's Amber Lyon, our correspondent and Philippe, Philippe Cousteau, our CNN analyst on this. Interestingly enough, we have got -- we are getting a ton of tweets and e-mails and responses from many of you who are mesmerized watching this, as are we, because it is different, it is new. And many of you are concerned and you're asking us questions because you heard Amber say that her mask is leaking. And you just want us to make sure that that's OK.
Here is one. It says: "Ask Amber if she is at all concerned with the fact that her mask is leaking. After all, she is in toxic waters."
I will tell you what. Hey, Ang?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There might be a bit of a concern.
SANCHEZ: All right. I think we are going to get her to come up to the top of the boat. And then, maybe, Chad, you and I can ask them some questions about what they saw, what they experienced, and how this plays into this whole mess down there in the Gulf of Mexico.
And as soon as she gets up to the top, we will be able to ask some of the questions that you asked. By the way, can we hear them now as they're going up? I'm not even sure.
All right, let's listen in then.
COUSTEAU: (INAUDIBLE) I wish this was under better circumstances, and not a disaster like this.
LYON: (INAUDIBLE) You're good to go?
SANCHEZ: It looks like they're heading up, right, Chad?
MYERS: It seems like it.
SANCHEZ: How far down were they, about 30 -- 40, 30 feet?
MYERS: Oh, I wouldn't -- I wouldn't think so. I would think maybe 15, 20 feet at most.
MYERS: It would be -- the dive master said that he was very concerned that, in the top 20 feet of the water column, he hadn't seen a fish yet, saw a couple sharks --
MYERS: -- but hadn't seen a bait fish, hadn't seen anything for the sharks to eat. And all the other fish had been kind of scrambled down a little bit father down.
And so, because we didn't see anything, I'm assuming we weren't -- we weren't down below 25 feet. Plus, if it really is this turbid, as they're describing it, you know, there is --
MYERS: -- there's probably not much light down 30 feet, 40 feet down.
SANCHEZ: Well, it's interesting. And a lot of folks on Twitter were asking this question, though, but when you're in waters with predators, like sharks and barracudas, although, you know, obviously, it -- you know, the -- the threat is exaggerated, as you and I know, because we have both dove -- the fact that you're in murky waters, and the fact the predators haven't eaten in a long period of time --
SANCHEZ: -- would make them more apt to perhaps either mistakenly bite you to check out what you are, et cetera, et cetera, right?
MYERS: That's what I would think.
MYERS: You know, here -- this is on tape now. This is what we were seeing before. What was -- the thing that I think we probably are not seeing, because there's not light behind the camera -- if we had a giant flashlight behind the camera to reflect what we're what we're -- what this -- is making the turbidity here, you might get a better sense of what is reflecting back at you.
MYERS: They're describing little organisms that are dead floating around in the water.
MYERS: Describing COREXIT, maybe, or whatever it could be.
SANCHEZ: Organic matter, he said.
MYERS: Organic matter floating around, dead, clearly. And so that's why the visibility isn't what it should be.
SANCHEZ: You're -- you're -- by the way, we're not interrupting anything you haven't seen already. This is file tape of what they were explaining to us just moments ago.
And now we're waiting for them to get to the top, and they are going to get back on the boat. And, hopefully, when they get back on the boat, we will have a camera there with a live signal, and we will be able to ask them questions and maybe hear them a little more clearly than we were before.
MYERS: You have to understand, this is harder than getting a shot out of Afghanistan for us.
MYERS: You know, you get -- you get -- you have to -- you have to put a box on the ground in Afghanistan, you shoot it anywhere you want to.
SANCHEZ: Yes, like a sat phone.
MYERS: We're -- yes, we are on a moving platform in the middle of the ocean, the Gulf of Mexico. And they are underwater. So, this is jumping through a few hoops to get even this on the air at all.
SANCHEZ: How far are there? How -- what, 40 miles out?
MYERS: Maybe, maybe 40 miles from Venice.
They went down the southwest channel, and then out, and then down into East Bay, and we didn't find any oil. We were searching for a couple of hours looking for oil. They didn't find any, and then went out a little bit farther. To be out where the real thick oil is would be about another 12 miles out. And the authorities said, you're not going out there.
SANCHEZ: Hey, let's see if we get that -- can you -- got that -- do you have that shot of the shark, by the way? This is them as they're -- give me -- give me the shark video.
I thought this was interesting, because we keep hearing the big fish are there. The little fish aren't. All right, there's -- there's a predator for you. I can't tell if that is a blacktip, a mako, or what it is.
MYERS: The dive master called it a mako. But from that shot --
SANCHEZ: Oh, he did? He did?
SANCHEZ: Oh, I didn't know that.
MYERS: But you couldn't tell.
SANCHEZ: I thought it looked like a mako to me.
But -- but I will tell you this. Underwater, everything looks much bigger. (LAUGHTER)
SANCHEZ: I remember, I was once in my backyard in South Florida, and I live off an area where there were canals, and I use to loved to go in there and retrieve golf balls with my mask and my snorkel.
And there was a -- there was an alligator there one day. And he couldn't have been more than two feet long.
SANCHEZ: I will tell you, this thing felt like it was 19 feet long when I first saw it. And it wasn't. So --
MYERS: So, you were retrieving golf balls and then selling them?
SANCHEZ: I was -- I was playing with them.
MYERS: Oh, I thought maybe that's --
MYERS: -- in your really well-paid days.
SANCHEZ: But my point -- my point is, no matter how big you think that shark was, it's not that big.
SANCHEZ: Right? Maybe four- or five-footer?
MYERS: Probably. The dive master said four to five feet.
SANCHEZ: All right, what do we got here, Angie?
SANCHEZ: What are we going to listen to here?
MYERS: It's still a shark.
SANCHEZ: Oh, they're back on -- they're back on the boat.
SANCHEZ: OK. Here we go. (CROSSTALK)
MYERS: That's Amber there in the red.
SANCHEZ: This is the producer, Eric, who is going to be talking to us now.
Eric, go ahead. You're on the air.
ERIC MARRAPODI, CNN PRODUCER: OK, guys.
Amber -- it's Eric Marrapodi here on the top of the boat with our crew.
Amber and Philippe and Rich are just going through a decontamination process. This is just extra precautions, extra safety. We want to make sure they are OK and out of the water. You can see Philippe getting his mask sprayed down there. You can see Amber with that headpiece on.
And, yes, it looks like everybody is safe.
Amber, you feeling OK?
LYON: Yes. I feel fine. I just -- I think I'm a little shocked at the amount of (INAUDIBLE) It was hard to (INAUDIBLE)
LYON: -- but the amount of a film --
MARRAPODI: Amber is saying she is OK. She said there's a lot of film underwater that made it hard to see. Maybe it hard to read on camera, which is why that shot might have been a little blurry.
Unclear what that film was at the moment, but everybody looks like they're doing OK. Rich Brooks (ph) is out of his dive suit already, our photographer. He's at the back of the boat there.
You can see us here. We have got about three boats tethered together. And everybody looks safe and healthy for right now. And we're just going to keep going through these decontaminations -- Rick.
SANCHEZ: Hey, Eric, is Philippe back up? Is Philippe back up, too? Is Philippe back up, Eric?
MARRAPODI: Philippe is back up, yes. Philippe is back up. He's fine. He's got his mask off. They're just hosing him down right now with the special decontamination fluid. So, Philippe looks good right now. Amber looks good. Rich looks good. Buck, our safety diver, we're getting a thumbs up from all them, so they're in good shape.
SANCHEZ: I'm interested if you could, Eric, on asking them questions as soon as they can. I don't want to get ahead of the safety issues.
But I'm really curious. When Philippe was talking about how things -- this film that they described, and I think at one point he said it looks like there is organic matter all over the water. What -- what -- could he draw us a better picture of that? What does he mean by that? What is it? Is it -- what's the viscosity? Is it thick? What's in it, et cetera, et cetera?
MARRAPODI: Yes, that -- Rick, that white matter that you were seeing, we think is broken-down oil.
Scott Porter, our -- our coral scientist who is on the boat with us, he said that film you're seeing is that -- that white film, they think that that's the oil that's been breaking down underneath the surface. It's been dispersants that have been treated.
During one of our test runs for the live shot, Buck Buchanan (ph), our safety diver, went down, and he -- he described it as -- as sort of a -- as a dust cloud almost, as if you broke open an old pillow at your grandmother's house, that kind of a white dust you would see out there.
So, he had that. And that's -- that's what the film looked like.
Let me see if I can't get over to Amber and Philippe and see if we can get some reaction from them coming out of the boat here.
LYON: All right, thanks, Andy.
So, we just got out of the water. And I think more than anything was the sheen you could see underneath the water. I don't know how to explain it. It was almost like a film. When I would look at you, it was almost like you were blurred out as I was watching you.
COUSTEAU: Well, and there was a -- you know, there was a lot of organic material that was in the water as well for sure, but there was just this -- this sense that you were in a, something that was thicker and more viscous.
And there -- I could also see little -- little globs of orange and dispersant mix that was trailing, you know, kind of very clear, oily mixture behind it just floating through the water column. I don't know how easily the camera could pick up things that small, but it is -- it's definitely distributed through the water column.
And this is -- as -- the last time I was diving was, you know, about two months ago, and we were --
LYON: You were in a big glob of oil then.
COUSTEAU: Yes. We were about 20 miles from the Deepwater -- 25 miles from Deepwater Horizon. And so we're about 50 now. So, this is what you would expect to see, but, you know, there's no major slicks around us right now, and yet there is still that oil in the water column. And that is what is so scary.
LYON: And you know what's interesting, too? If we can get -- does someone have that dish soap to show them the sheen on top of the water? I don't know if we're going to be able to see it or -- OK.
SANCHEZ: We will stay with you. We can give it a try.
LYON: Yes, we can try to do it. We will see if it works.
But I thought this kind of explained everything really well. When I saw it, I was a little amazed. Let's see if the camera will pick this up.
But, OK, you see it right there? You see the sheen of oil that's kind of split away from there? I hope the camera can pick that up. But --
COUSTEAU: But it is -- it's literally like you're in -- in your kitchen at home, and you have got greasy water and in the kitchen sink, and you take a little soap and you drop it in there, and it will separate.
And that is exactly -- you can do that at home. That's exactly what we're seeing out here in the Gulf of Mexico. It's shocking when you really think that there is this sheen of oil. And though it seems very small to us, it's toxic. And so many of the small plankton and the creatures that live in that very top layer of water of the Gulf and of the ocean, period, are -- are vulnerable and susceptible to the toxin in that oil.
And it's attacking the very base of the food chain. In fact, it's attacking all the way through the food chain.
LYON: And I think, more than anything, too, is what really gets you is the shock of, you know, this is the new reality of getting into the water in a lot of areas of the Gulf of Mexico. Because of the unknown, you have got to throw on a hazmat suit.
COUSTEAU: And this is -- this is no fun, I will tell you what, no fun stuff. But it has to be done.
SANCHEZ: We have --
LYON: I'm glad we were able to get down there and able to give you a live picture of that.
Let's go ahead and talk to our marine scientist.
And, Scott, it seems like we saw kind of the chemical cloud, like a similar thing that you saw on your last dive, when you were saying -- because you doesn't have a hazmat suit, and he said, no way. I'm not going back in that water.
SCOTT PORTER, CORAL SCIENTIST: That's right. And you didn't see any bait fish schools down there, I'm sure. Maybe you saw some sharks, didn't see --
PORTER: Yes, sharks, no bait fish.
LYON: Yes. As I turned around, I saw a shark swimming up above our head. And, like, that was super cool.
PORTER: It seems like they're the only ones that are able to tolerate the dispersant in the water.
The other fish seem to run from it. There's no bait fish hitting the top of the water. There's no birds diving down. And, I mean, like you said, it affects, you know, the surface. The surface is where your primary production happens. And you knock that down, and you knock down a lot of productivity of the Gulf of Mexico.
LYON: I want to talk to you, Scott, about -- I spoke earlier this week with BP's COO, Doug Suttles. And I asked him about the dispersant/oil combination that's in the water right now. And he said they don't have the technology to clean it up, but he said that the bacteria in the water will go ahead and remove most of that.
What do you think, based on your scientific knowledge? Is that true? Is that going to hurt this ecosystem?
PORTER: Well, it's still to be determined. You know, it's not provable, what they're saying. They can't prove what they're saying. But, at the same time, if it was just oil, I would say, OK, bacteria can break the oil down.
But the COREXIT is supposed to have over 100 different compounds, some organic compounds. And bacteria don't break down organic compounds, like benzene and --
LYON: All right, Scott, we have got to take off. But thank you so much.
And, Rick, we're going to go ahead and send it back to you from the Gulf of Mexico, 48 miles from the Deepwater Horizon incident.
SANCHEZ: It's amazing.
And my thanks to both of you, courageous work. Well done, instructive. And, hopefully, we will be able to get a chance to go back to both of you, Philippe and Amber, in just a little bit to be able to detail this story even more.
And, by the way, I mentioned this to you earlier, but there is a -- there is a Dr. Shaw that I have been trying to get a hold of now for quite a long time, been trying to reach out for -- for weeks and weeks. But she has been, well, in Tokyo and Hong Kong and other parts of the world. And we haven't been able to get her on.
She was the first one to report on what happens under the surface of the Gulf of Mexico when you mix the dispersant with the oil. And she is a renowned expert on this. And she's joining us live here in just a little bit to be able to take us through some of the unanswered questions that have been raised by what we have seen here.
And it just so happens she is joining us on this day, as we had this -- this planned dive under the water.
Stay right with us. We are going to be all over this.
And, obviously, we will be talking to you as well about some of the other stories in the news. Yes, LeBron is going to Miami. And, yes, there is a lot of people saying an awful lot of things that maybe they wish they hadn't said after last night.
Stay with us. This is RICK'S LIST, your national conversation. And we're going to be right back.
SANCHEZ: You know, I was thinking. And not to sound too contrarian -- I know I get a lot of heat sometimes when I play this role, but I think it's important for journalists to ask the questions sometimes that, well, can maybe magnify a situation a little bit better, because we are hearing most everybody rip on the use of these dispersants. But as I was listening to the conversation with Philippe, I was thinking to myself, well, to a certain extent, why are we complaining or criticizing something which seems to be working as well?
I guess my question is, as bad as the oil spill is, and as irresponsible as everything that led up to it is, wouldn't it be worse if the dispersant had not been used? Is it not good that even though it's still murky, at least we're not seeing oil in the water as we would be if the dispersant had not been used?
So let me direct that question back out to our crew. And maybe we'll get some kind of explanation for that.
Eric, are you there?
MARRAPODI: Yes, Rick. I can hear you. Yes, the question is, you know, are these dispersants -- should they have been used, would it have been better if they weren't used? I mean, you know, in one sense, what our divers were seeing down there was the dispersants working, when you see those little particulates, those smaller pieces of oil broken down, the experts would tell you that's a good thing.
Another thing we saw as we were headed out to this spot was a lot of that -- instead of that heavy, thick, black crude that we see that's washing up in some of the marshes, what we were seeing --
SANCHEZ: All right. Let's see if this is a kill or just a little delay that you get to sometimes when you get a bip m the transponder satellite.
Nope, it's gone. We lost him. OK. No problem.
We'll get him back and we'll continue to bring you up to date on the story that we're following for you live in the Gulf.
I'm glad most of you have enjoyed us bringing you that. I mean, the tweets have been amazing. Many of you have called it remarkable.
I said we didn't guarantee anything. We did the best we could. And I think we were able to give you a perspective you haven't seen before.
What I do want to do now -- here we go. Here's another one of the tweets that we've been talking about, that I've been sharing with you.
It says, "Rick Sanchez, CNN, giving us a look under water at the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks, Rick and Philippe and Amber. Very tough to watch, but good to see firsthand."
Well, I should tell you that there were a lot of people here at CNN involved in that production putting that together for us. So kudos to all of them as well.
Let's get a break in. When we come back, LeBron James.
You will not believe what is being said about him, specifically by some of the people who are most upset about the fact that they're not going to see him play in their own hometown anymore. But there is a lot to this story, and we'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: By the way, for those of you who follow me on Twitter -- and I know that many of you do -- we do have expanded coverage there of things that you often don't get during this newscast. We put out a TwitVid every single day that some people call short of -- just shy of amazing. Not because I have anything to do with it, but because one of my producers is Dave Johnson, who puts these together for you every day, and they're really getting a heck of a following. So, again, follow me and you'll get them directly at RickSanchezCNN. The "TwitVid of the Day" is usually released around noon. And it gives you a pretty good sense of what's in the news, and it's a different way of delivering news.
Meanwhile, the big news story that we've been following has to do with LeBron James. This is when sports and news somehow become cousins.
Sports fans often complain about how athletes are more concerned with their salaries than with winning games. Well, LeBron James has turned all of that on its head.
He decided to leave the comfort of home and to take less money in salary. That's right. You don't hear this a lot. He is actually taking less money in salary in order to win.
But around the country, this move isn't being exactly celebrated. In Cleveland, for example, let's just say it's a gray mood.
BILL SHEIL, WJW REPORTER: Rick, it is raining here in Cleveland today, and it probably should be. A sad day for the city. There is a sense of anger, bitterness, and deep sense of betrayal here.
People here believe that LeBron James embarrassed his hometown by announcing he would leave it on national television. They have also replaced the T-shirts that said "Witness" like the billboard behind me with T-shirts that say "Quitness." They think that LeBron quit on his team in the last series with the Celtics, and that the Cavs mortgaged their future trying to win a championship with him, and now he has left them.
If you remember what happened to Tiger Woods' reputation between Thanksgiving and Christmas of last year, that's what's happened to LeBron James' reputation in Cleveland in one day. He is being compared today to Art Modell, the former owner of the Browns, who took the team to Baltimore, who, up until today, was clearly the most hated man in the history of Cleveland sports.
What a difference one day makes.
SANCHEZ: At least he didn't do it in the middle of the night with moving trucks.
Now let's take you to Miami for that reaction. Here that is.
RICH PHILLIPS, CNN SR. PRODUCER: The folks in Miami really aren't used to talking hoops in July. That's usually reserved for the Miami Dolphins as fans get ready for football season. But LeBron has changed all that. And when it comes to season tickets now, all available season tickets are sold out. You can't buy one. So that kind of means that it's going to be a pretty tough ticket to come by in the fall -- Rick.
SANCHEZ: Hey, thanks so much, Rich.
Now I want to take you to New York. This is interesting, because up until the very last minute, a lot of New York fans thought they were still in the hunt. They weren't.
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you feel betrayed by LeBron.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't feel betrayed by LeBron. I'm disappointed, but I don't feel betrayed.
I think that LeBron James took the best opportunity, and I think this is a unique situation for him. And he put himself in this position to make that choice, and I think he made the best choice that he figured that he could do at this particular time.
ROTH: What did you think of the interview presentation style? Did that increase the torture for you Thursday evening?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to say I agree. I think it could have been done a little bit better. And at the end of the day, give us a little bit more of why you picked the Miami Heat instead of the New York Knicks or the Chicago Bulls. But, yes, that was long and drawn out.
ROTH: OK. The view from Yonkers near New York City?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think he did what he thought was best for himself. You know what? And I think you don't owe anybody anything.
He gave seven great years to Cleveland. And you know what? The owner came out and basically cursed the day he was born and -- the owner of Cleveland. But, hey, you know what? He did what he thought was best for him.
I thought Chicago was a better pick for him actually than New York.
ROTH: Do you think he was worried about being on the big stage here in Madison Square Garden? I mean, I thought you're the king, you're supposed to be the champion of New York. He would have been a savior to the Garden here behind us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that that is absolutely not the case. I think that wherever he goes, he is the main stage. He is the guy.
SANCHEZ: We're going to be talking in just a little bit to sports business analyst Rick Horrow, who is going to tell us yes, he may have taken less money in salary, but he's also going to tell us how it is LeBron James will end up making more money by choosing Miami over the other cities.
Why? What's the difference between the money in Miami and the money anywhere else? He's going to explain this to us. And it's pretty interesting.
This is your national conversation. Yes, I'm reading your tweets. We'll continue to share.
We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: Throughout this newscast here at RICK'S LIST we've done something unprecedented. We have been able to take you under water to do the very first live reports in the muck of the Gulf of Mexico, where the oil and the dispersant has combined to create a turbine effect. And this is the first time we've been able to actually experience this for you and file the reports as we were doing it.
But interestingly enough, someone I've been following now for the better part of a month is Susan Shaw. Susan Shaw is a marine toxicologist who you're about to hear from. She dove into the oily Gulf waters to see for herself what was going on under water. She was the first to do so.
And I read her columns, and I've been trying to get a hold of her. And every time we called her she was some place like Tokyo or Hong Kong or something, and we couldn't get a hold of her. So, finally, we got her, and what a perfect day to talk to her.
Because, Susan, I don't know if you know this, but we've had Philippe Cousteau and some of our people under water today showing us these murky waters that they say would normally be clear, but now they're not.
First of all, thank you for being with us.
Your impression of what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico, beneath the surface?
SUSAN SHAW, MARINE TOXICOLOGIST: Well, when you go into the water, you realize quickly what's going on. The oil from the surface is breaking up into smaller pieces, globules, and this is a dispersed oil that contains the COREXIT. So it's a combination of COREXIT and oil. And I think what people don't realize is how toxic that dispersed oil really is.
The COREXIT contains solvents, petroleum solvents. The oil contains hydrocarbons. And the combination is lethal to many, many organisms under the water. But when I was there, I could see. It looks exactly like plankton.
Plankton gets all mixed up in it, and it kills plankton right away. But all the fish and animals that eat plankton, like the small fish, they're going after this dispersed oil and taking that in. So that's another layer where you have an immediate lethal effect on part of the food (INAUDIBLE). And that's what we've been concerned about all along.
SANCHEZ: So that's interesting. I hadn't heard that before. What you just explained to the viewers is that the animals that generally eat plankton, sometimes large animals -- whale sharks eat plankton, interestingly enough, or take it in.
SHAW: Whale sharks. Right.
SANCHEZ: Yes. And they -- because it looks like plankton, they're eating it, but actually what they're eating is a combination of oil and dispersants?
SHAW: That's right. They're going through the -- these animals go through the water column with their mouths wide open. They're indiscriminately eating what they think is plankton.
And with all of this dispersed oil in the plumes, that is exactly what they're eating, is dispersed oil. And the reason this is so toxic is because of these solvents that penetrate the skin of anything that's going through the dispersed oil, takes the oil into the cells, takes the oil into the organs very quickly. And this stuff is toxic to every organ system in the body. So we've been really concerned.
SANCHEZ: Let me just ask you the obvious question that a lot of our viewers want to know and a lot of people have been asking. Would it have been different or worse or better to not use the dispersant and then just let the oil go into the Gulf of Mexico, or at least as the dispersant broke it up enough to help?
SHAW: Well, this was a tradeoff that was discussed, you know, and they made their decision to save the wetlands, the marshes from the thick oil by dispersing it into the ocean, thinking that that was the least of evils. But actually, it isn't the least of evils. We're starting to see a lot of death out there.
I just got off of a shrimping boat. I was out in an area of the Gulf that is -- it's definitely oiled. And I heard what is dead out there is just amazing.
All of the shrimp have died. All of the oysters. All of the crabs. All of the small fish.
I was out there for hours on this boat. We saw barely any birds. This is an area that is so rich in life, and now there is so much death out there.
There's no fish. The birds are starving. SANCHEZ: We just talked to a coral specialist --
SHAW: It's really bad.
SANCHEZ: -- who, by the way -- we just talked to a coral specialist, Susan, a little while ago, Dr. Shaw, who told us that 75 percent of the coral he had found had died in that area as well.
SANCHEZ: OK. Before I let you go, long-term view here? As a scientist, as an expert in this particular field, what do you believe will be the long-term effect of that which we're seeing now, which we can't yet understand perhaps?
SHAW: Well, I think we've lost a lot. We've lost generations of fish. We've lost pieces of this food web that'll never come back.
You know, it's going to take decades and decades. And I think the dispersant, the whole plan around the dispersants has made the situation far worse than if we just sucked up the oil with some technology that works that would have been far better.
But now we're going to look at long-term effects throughout the food web and people. And if we -- I can tell you what happens -- because I was in the oil -- to people. I don't know if we have the time --
SANCHEZ: Go ahead. Finish up. You've piqued my curiosity.
SHAW: OK. So I got a very fiery sore throat after being in the water. I had covered myself, all of my skin, so it wasn't skin contact, but the fumes. But I talked to shrimpers today who were throwing their nets into the water. It's about a month ago when they were using the more toxic COREXIT, the 9527.
The water from the nets splashed on his skin and he got a headache that lasted for three weeks. He had heart palpitations. He had muscle spasms and bleeding in the -- bleeding from the rectum.
And that's what that COREXIT does. It ruptures red blood cells, causes internal bleeding, and liver and kidney damage.
So this stuff is so toxic, combined, it's not the oil alone, the dispersant alone. It's the dispersed oil that still contains this stuff. It's very, very toxic. It goes right through skin.
SANCHEZ: Dr. Susan Shaw is a marine toxicologist who we've been wanting to get on for quite a while, because we knew she had some information to share with the rest of us about -- firsthand information about what's going on in the Gulf of Mexico.
I'm glad we finally had a chance to get you on, Dr. Shaw. Thanks for being with us. We appreciate your time.
SHAW: Thank you. SANCHEZ: We're going to be right back with more on the situation in the Gulf, as well as some of the other stories.
And we welcome once again our audience that's come in during the summer on a daily basis. They just keep growing in bunches.
Go ahead. Give us a wave as we go to break.
We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: OK. Here's what many of you look forward to every single day on this newscast. No matter what channel you watch or newspaper you read, the headlines these last couple of days have been about what? LeBron, LeBron, LeBron.
Here is the news. Miami wins. Cleveland loses. Right? That's it in a nutshell.
Here's "The List U Don't Want 2 Be On."
Dan Gilbert is the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He has every reason to be disappointed. Every reason to not just be disappointed, even angry. But immediately following last night's television free agent announcement, Gilbert unleashed an Internet scream (ph) against his former star LeBron James on NBA.com.
And in an open letter to the people of northeast Ohio, Gilbert wrote that LeBron's "heartless and callused action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called curse on Cleveland. The self-declared former king will be taking the curse with him now down South."
Say what you want about James. I mean, he gave Cleveland seven good years. Right? Seven years.
Isn't it up to him to decide where he plays next? And by the way, why is he turning on James the way he is, and will he do that to other players who may want to improve their lot in life?
I mean, wouldn't you want your boss to wish you well if you finally got your dream job? I mean, I would want CNN to be happy for me.
By the way, shouldn't Gilbert take some ownership here? I mean, pardon the pun, he is the owner. He got one of the best players ever, and he wasn't able to field a championship himself. And now he's attacking the player?
In sports there are winners and there are losers. Gilbert lost. But he doesn't have to act like a loser.
He is number one today on "The List U Don't Want 2 Be On."
By the way, we've got a tweet coming in now in response to our "List U Don't Want 2 Be On." Go to it. This is Scott on owner Dan Gilbert. "He will do whatever it takes to win a championship. And I'm in with both feet. I'm right there with him." From the Cleveland cavaliers. That's the new coach, by the way, of the Cleveland Cavaliers backing up Mr. Gilbert.
Good. And I think most people are going to be pulling for the Cavaliers.
Joining us now from West Palm Beach, Florida, is the man who said that he thought that LeBron James was going to be going to Miami.
Rick Horrow joins us now, and he's putting some silly thing up there.
What is that? I can't see. What is that?
RICK HORROW, SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST: You remember this. This was 25 years ago, the Miami Arena, Ted Arison, the magnate --
SANCHEZ: Yes. I was there. I was there.
HORROW: Ted Arison, David Stern, $32.5 million to pay for that franchise. Now LeBron James, Bosh, and Wade combined, $300 million guaranteed, 10 times more than the franchise in the first place. And people in Miami are darned glad to have those guys, by the way.
SANCHEZ: Wait. Take us through the numbers again. So they bought the franchise for some $30 million and they just paid $300 million for three players.
HORROW: Yes. And $1.4 billion for all those free agents.
And you're right, these guys can improve their lot in life. They all do it at the same time.
Their agents said, let's have the contracts expire basically at the same time. This has been an incredibly fun summer for the NBA. Not for a lot of owners who want to pay these dollars, but these guys are worth it.
These are NBA superstars that are important in the box office. And, by the way, the Cavaliers, worth about $450 million, according to Forbes. They may drop. The Heat may take their place in the top five.
SANCHEZ: Well, look, there is no question these guys could very well, if they do everything that they are capable of doing, become not just a championship team, but a dynasty. I mean, I'm serious. They're that good in the NBA compared to the rest of the players. Not that any one of them can do it, but the three of them together might very well be able to do that.
Now, I want to ask you about something, because I teased my viewers with this a little while ago because I was reading your column this morning when I got up.
HORROW: Well said. SANCHEZ: And I noticed that you said the fact that he is in Miami plays into something most of us have never talked about. There's this huge audience out there, this huge market called Latin America. Its marketplace is centered in Miami. And this would be a huge tool for both LeBron and the NBA.
HORROW: You remember the NBA wanted to be global and go to China? Mikhail Prokhorov, the owner of the New Jersey Nets, big-time deal, could have opened up Russia. Olympics in Brazil in 2016, basketball is the key. And if the Heat wins and is a dynasty, this could be the gateway to a (ph) team.
Look, we know the World Cup is happening. British Open, Tailormade and others putting on major events across the pond in the next week.
This is a huge international sports world, $750 billion worldwide. And the Heat may get a piece of it, and also may help the NBA penetrate down to Central and South America.
SANCHEZ: You knew Pat Riley had been working on this all along, but did LeBron James have this figured out all along?
Let me let you hear, Rick, what some of the other folks in the NBA are saying. All right?
Look at Ben Lyons, for example. He's bitter.
This is a tweet we got just three minutes ago. He's watching our show.
"I think King James lied to us last night," referring to LeBron. "He knew he'd be doing this with Chris Bosh, P.J. Brown, and the Dwyane Wade for a long time. Right?"
Well, is that true? Because LeBron, last night, said, "I made my decision yesterday morning."
HORROW: Hey, he had to, Rick. Rick, he had to check with his mom. So he ain't going to lie to his mom. He may lie to you. He may lie to me.
And lying is all relative. I know that's a bad thing to say, but these guys can go where they want. That is the nature of free agency. And frankly, they now return to being employees after being walking, talking, breathing, free-throw-shooting stimulus plans for the last few days.
Now, he makes one city happy, he makes five unhappy. You can't win them all.
SANCHEZ: Look, let's do the numbers here.
You guys are interested -- are you guys trying to figure out what the numbers are on this thing?
I read in The Herald that Dwyane Wade is getting -- these are incredible numbers.
You guys ready for this? You're going to get jealous. OK? Because these are not human numbers like the rest of us deal with.
Wade is getting $20 million or thereabouts. Bosh is getting $19 million or thereabouts. A year, by the way. A year. And that doesn't include endorsements. That's a year.
And then I guess they'd have to give LeBron what, $30 million, $35 million? I mean, do we even know? And where were they able to come up with the money and stay still under the cap, the supposed cap that these NBA teams are supposed to have?
HORROW: I'll help you answer that real quick.
They get $16.6 million apiece or so. There is an eight percent kicker every year for five years. So they're all getting about $90 or $100 million.
And now we see whose perks are better. Dwyane Wade, the superstar, LeBron James, right behind him. Chris Bosh right behind him. They all checked their egos at the door in theory because they want to win multiple championships.
And if the Heat becomes a dynasty, that extra $2 million or $3 million doesn't matter to them, they say. It matters to you. It matters to me. It matters to your audience. But that's where the dollars come from.
SANCHEZ: You know, I think in the end, I don't understand. It's like people got mad at Ricky Williams when he decided, you know what? He wants to go to Africa and smoke whatever he wants to -- you know, and smoke and drink or do whatever.
I don't understand -- I can understand criticizing him for maybe his behavior, but we don't own these guys. I mean, if Rick Horrow decides tomorrow to work for Company X or Rick Sanchez decides to go work over here, you know, I mean, look at Tony Gonzalez. He says LeBron has the right to go wherever he wants to.
Aren't they right?
HORROW: Yes. A couple of quick issues, though.
Six thousand jobs, some say, were associated with LeBron in Cleveland. And again, he doesn't owe Cleveland a thing or vice versa. But a lot of people came to depend on him. And the contracts expired a certain time. That's what free agency is all about.
SANCHEZ: Rick Horrow, my thanks to you. We'll do it again.
That's it for the week.
Here's Wolf Blitzer and your "SITUATION ROOM."