Well, we all knew it was only a matter of when, not if, that a major oil spill would occur in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill is now upon us. What are some of the potential impacts of this?There are still a number of ifs to think about but assuming the worse for the moment the spill could have a significant effect of the seafood and tourist industries in Alabama for several years to come.The most people are waxing and waning between frustration and anger, blaming BP and the federal government for not being prepared enough. Some feel that the booms will protect the marshes but they are like putting bubble gum on arterial bleeding. Once the waves get over three feet the oil will lap over the booms assuming that they hold together. Another thing is that the freshwater from the bays will sit over the more saline Gulf water and some of the oil will be forced into the interface between the two and go under the booms.What is he bottom line?We all hope that the spill could misses us entirely but if the well keeps putting out oil for the next two or three months like BP and the feds say the chances of that are minimal.Short term – we have the potential to lose most of the shrimp and oyster seasons and other than a few disaster tourists the majority of the beach crowds as well.Long term – the mashes are nursery areas and the oil’s impact could last for years. Reducing the year classes of commercial and recreational vertebrate and invertebrate species. Since oysters are filter feeders the effects of the spill has the potential shut the fishery down for some time? Oysters tasting like oil don’t sell well.The marshes, creeks, bayous and oyster reefs are nursery grounds for the vast majority of the seafood caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Looking at the aquatic life, the majority of adult fish and crabs will have a chance to move out of the way as the oil moves in but the eggs and juveniles cannot. Oysters on their reefs cannot move and will be contaminated.Once the oil settles into the marshes it will be next to impossible to completely remove. Its effects could be a long-term chronic level of pollution impacting the seafood industry for years to come.An emergency meeting of the Gulf Shores City Council was held at city hall in Gulf Shores on 1 May 2010. An emergency resolution was passed that allows the City Council to do preemptive contracting to help with the beach cleanup. The Council indicated that the cleanup would start as the oil comes ashore rather than waiting until the leak is plugged. Booms will be placed in critical area to divert the oil so it can be removed by skimming.The Council said that a boom would be placed at Little Lagoon Pass. If this boom looks like it will fail the Council will close the pass with sand. If it looks like the Lagoon waters will overflow at some other point on the lagoon the pass will be opened at low tide to let the water out and then plugged again.If you would like to volunteer to help with the clean up you can follow this link. http://www.wkrg.com/gulf_oil_spill/article/volunteers-needed-for-possible-oil….Good luck to us all.
Think Global – Act Local!