Bonefish. Image courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
With 200,000 gallons of the Gulf of Mexico's finest light, sweet crude still gushing from a hole in the ocean floor, biologists from all over America are busy prognosticating. One thing is certain, however: should the ever-growing oil slick enter the circular current of the Gulf--which appears imminent--the pristine fish and wildlife habitat of southern Florida lies in the crosshairs.
Now, nothing is certain. But that current, which wipes itelf across the Gulf in a huge clock-wise pattern, comes within miles of the penninsula's beaches, and could wash into mangrove forests, into the Everglades and even into the premiere fishing grounds of the Florida Keys. At risk and of key concern to region's recreational and commerical fishing industry are huge populations of snook, redfish, sea trout, bonefish, tarpon, permit, jack crevalle and even bluefin tuna.
On a larger scale, endangered critters that depend on the health of their habitat--like American crocodiles, loggerhead turtles and manitees--stand to lose ground should the oil find its way into the watery nooks and crannies of the south Florida coast.
One thing is certain. As Gulf Coast residents continue to develop an inventory of damages--and as the oil slick continues to grow--the cause of this catastrophic event must be fully determined. First, this must never be allowed to happen again. Second, the damage, which could last a lifetime, must be completely paid for by those responsible.
If this event doesn't make every American--regardless of their political affiliation--aware of the need to develop renewable and clean sources of reliable energy, nothing will.