The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded far from the shores of Key West, but that doesn't mean officials in Florida aren't concerned.
Online PR News – 05-May-2010 – – Crews from all over the Gulf area, including Florida, are rushing to the Deepwater Horizon, which is still gushing oil from its broken underwater pipes. Vessels from NOAA, FWC and Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection have been sent to the disaster are to aid in cleanup operations. They will join the efforts to contain the oil spill by collecting it and funneling it for burnoff.
FWC and NOAA vessels out of Florida are also standing by to aid in ongoing operations to protect and save animals and resources. Birds, fish and other marine wildlife are all in danger of impact from the oil spill, which is carried by wind and currents. If the giant oil slick gets caught up in currents, it will be carried around the Gulf and down to the Florida Keys. Local Key West fishing guides are concerned not only for the marine habitat in Key West but also for their very own livelihood.
"We're hoping against hope that this oil doesn't come our way and blanket us in black slime" says Todd Mergen, who works in the Key West Charter Fishing business. "After a cold winter and the ban on Grouper just being lifted, we don't need this now. We were looking forward to what was turning out to be a great Spring and Summer season."
The winds and tides are now pushing the slick towards the state of Florida, where Governor Charlie Crist has declared a state of emergency in 13 counties so far. If the slick gets caught up in the Loop Current, which runs clockwise around the Gulf of Mexico, oil will soon be arriving on Florida's shores.
And that's in spite of over 3,000 workers toiling to contain and cap the leaks. There are three leaks, which they hope to contain within the next few days using underwater domes with funnels on them. Key West fishing guides are watching the efforts closely, and crossing their fingers it doesn't all come their way. All types of charters, from Key West flats fishing to offshore fishing, stand to be greatly affected by the environmental disaster should winds and tide bring it this way.
Today in Alabama, National Guard troops are working to protect the beaches. They are erecting 3 foot high barriers, at the beach line, which would trap the crude oil and keep it from covering white beach sand. Florida may have to do the same on its Gold Coast, once tides and wind bring the crude closer. And BP officials announced that the oil leak has potential for even greater spillage than initially estimated. All this has everyone in the Southernmost City, from Key West charterboat captains to residents, very worried. But all they can do for now is watch and wait. Todd Mergen is doing just that, and hoping for the best as he continues to see bookings for fishing trips throughout the week.
To find out more on Key West fishing and traveling to the Southernmost City this month, visit www.keywestvisitorguide.com.