Senator Wicker visits animal research center - - The News for South Mississippi

Senator Wicker visits animal research center


By Krystal Allan – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Senator Roger Wicker and his wife Gayle arrived at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies Sunday afternoon. The touch and feel pool was one of the first stops on the Wickers tour.

Mrs. Wicker had no problem getting her hands wet as she picked up a hermit crab.  As the tour progressed, the pair found themselves nearly nose to nose with a rescued dolphin.

"To get to see the dolphin who had lost his mother and would have died had it not been for the wonderful facility here...getting to feed the dolphin that was exciting," Gayle Wicker said.

The two saw first-hand the role the institute plays in providing animals with vital care.  It's care that's become more critical in the wake of the oil spill.  In one area of the facility, they learned how sea turtles are treated and how the facility can accommodate up to 100 rescued turtles.

"We can be proud of this, and I can go back with the message (to Washington) that we're ready down here," Senator Wicker said.

For the past few weeks, the senator has sat in on hearings on the oil spill.  He's said he's taken a different view on the alleged finger-pointing from companies involved in the spill.

"I don't mind the finger-pointing, because if one company is pointing out what the other company did wrong, that's information that's helpful for us.  Something caused it for sure, and we need to make sure that it's very highly unlikely that it happens again," Senator Wicker said.

The senator also discussed steps taken by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar to put a moratorium on drilling in shallow waters, closer to shore.  Wicker said he and seven other Gulf Coast senators have signed a letter asking the Secretary to make a distinction between deep water and shallow water drilling.

"We're hoping that rather than lose the thousands and thousands of jobs in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana in shallow drilling, the secretary will lift that moratorium for those people," Wicker said.

During his tour, Wicker also discussed the delicate balance between keeping people updated on the spill's impact but not scaring people away from the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

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