I am sitting here, just after dawn, in Panama City Beach, Florida and I'm looking out over the Gulf of Mexico. I've been coming here all my life. My family owns a timeshare condiminium here. Every year, the second week of June, we're here... looking out over the same ocean... only it struck me this morning this will be the last time.
The last time I ever see it like this; seemingly unspoiled. Beautiful sea-green water, white sandy beaches. It's quiet this morning, almost like the world is holding it's breath. This is the first place I ever saw the ocean. That was thirty years ago, when I was just 6 years old. I remember being amazed by its vastness, stretching off beyond the world it seemed. Over the years a lot has happened to me here. I've met girls here, brought friends here. I first bungee jumped here. I caught fish off a boat here. Saw manta rays, dolphins in their native habitat, even a shark. I surfed here, boogie boarded. This beach, this place is a physical part of my memories.
In a few weeks that's all it will be: a memory. The Deepwater Horizon has spent 52 days pumping 100,000 gallons of oil a day into the Caribbean Sea. Oil is ashore not 50 miles from here on Pensacola Beach. BP (British Petroleum) has been unable to stop it. The best measure so far has resulted in the 'capture' of maybe 3o% of the oil... that's after admittedly releasing at least 20% more a day by cutting the riser. They say by August two relief wells will stop it. By August.
Louisana, already devastated by Hurricane Katrina a few years ago, is covered in oil. Not slippery oil; sticky, mud-like oil. The kind that kills nearly everything it touches. Sea birds, dolphins, turtles, and countless trillions of plankton and other miniscule sea life that the entire food chain is built on. The blue fin tuna breeds here. So does the marlin. So do Atlantic sea turtles and a good portion of other Atlantic sea life. Here. Only here. In the Gulf of Oil. The United States gets some 90% of its sea food here. Only Here.
Look at the Gulf Stream. The currents that run through the Gulf of Mexico. From where the Deepwater Horizon sits the Gulf Stream will catch the oil and carry it to every beach along the Gulf Shores. It will then drag it around Florida and up the eastern US seaboard as far north as Virginia. Afterward it will dump the toxic mixture of oil and fatal dispersants into the northern Atlantic Ocean. This is more than just a disaster; this is a catastrophe.
The oil will kill any sea life it comes in contact with. United States Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen has already confirmed that the large spill has broken up into "hundreds of thousands of other spills." Hundreds of thousands. Taken by the oceanic currents to... well look at the map. Africa? Portugal? England? To compound matters the dispersants that broke up one large spill into hundreds of thousands are fatal to sea life for, admittedly, decades.