Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pensacola Beach 'Walloped'

We're on the road and grabbed a few minutes, using some loaned equipment, to write this abbreviated update on what we know. Use the message board if you have something to add.

1. Tons of Tar.

Reporter Jamie Page writes "roughly 8 tons of tar balls" were scooped up from Johnson Beach at Perdido Key, according to a report by the Florida Division of Emergency Management." That's a number Pensacola Beach will be certain to exceed in the coming days.

"The latest weather projections are likely to continue to push these impacts ashore along much of the Gulf front on Pensacola Beach," Page reports.

2. Worst Wallop.

BP oil gave Pensacola Beach "the worst wallop so far in Florida" Mary Ellen Klas and Carol Rosenburg report for the Miami Herald. Even Phillipe Cousteau, who was among the environmental all-stars accompanying governor Charlie Crist on his inspection of local beaches, was surprised.

"I didn't think it was going to be quite like this on the beach," Cousteau said. "We saw tar balls on the beach a few weeks ago. I expected that here. But it looks like it's thicker, more viscous. I saw this in Grand Isle [Louisiana] three weeks ago."

Phillipe is the son of the late Jacques Cousteau.

3. "Whitest" No More.

Remember the famous sailfish sign pointing the way to Pensacola Beach? "World's Whitest Beaches" it reads.

No more, writes Troy Moon for the PNJ, now that BP has "vomited" on the beach.

4. Performance Aquarium Art.

Art Daily is featuring a unique exhibit about to open at the 40,000-gallon aquarium of the National Mississippi River and Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa, of all places. Instead of the customary display of "teeming...sharks, rays and other fish," the BP oil catastrophe inspired a quick change of plans. Now, the aquarium will be featuring a lifeless Gulf of Mexico murdered by BP oil.

The Dubuque aquarium might want to consult with Pensacola's Enid Sisskin. You might say she pioneered this kind of performance aquarium art.

We heard Prof. Sisskin tell a documentary film director the other day that on a recent visit to Washington D.C., she took along two bottles of Gulf water. One was oil mixed with sand and the other oil dispersed in water.

"Both were really, really awful to look at," she said.

Enid left the bottles with a couple of senators. They later shared them with Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), so she was told.

Franken apparently was so incensed at what the bottles revealed that he started carrying them up and down the corridors of the Senate office building, collaring various colleagues and shoving the bottles in their face.

"You see?" he would shout. "This is what is happening to the Gulf of Mexico! They're killing it!"

Who knows? The Franken story could be true. The killing of the Gulf of Mexico certainly is true.

In that same interview, Prof. Sisskin said something else worth remembering. We have to paraphrase, but it went something like this:

"As bad as the tarballs and oil plume look, far worse is what lies beneath the surface. It's what we don't see that is the most dangerous. The oil plumes and all that highly dispersed oil deep under water is killing a large part of all life in the Gulf of Mexico. And we have no idea what that will mean for anything that might survive. Or, for us -- people. The consequences could be so catastrophic and widespread that it defies imagination."


Anonymous said...

Interesting article from Esquire Magazine about past and future health effects about crude oil,as found at:

Anonymous said...

Surf On Pensacola Beach Boiling Like Acid .

What is happening??

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