This morning I drove up the coast to Orange Beach, Alabama. What I saw brought me to heretofore unknown levels of rage and sadness; oil… and one indescribably gorgeous beach with perhaps three people on it. The cleaning crews are doing an amazing job of keeping up with the spill and although swimming is off-limits, the upper parts of the beach are remarkably clean… and totally deserted. Trust me, I get no remuneration for these blogs and videos, so I say this with all my heart and honesty… come down! It’s breathtakingly beautiful down here and sorely in need of well wishers and unbridled optimism.
I’m tired of complaining, it’s time for something positive:
Something the media probably hasn’t mentioned much, if at all, is Gulf Breeze’s all volunteer group “Coastal Watch”, a wonderfully tireless and justifiably optimistic gathering of people as there ever was. Coastal Watch works under Gulf Breeze’s Police Department and for parts of the past two days I’ve been fortunate enough to find room with Bill Clark and his crews as they go out on patrol of Pensacola Bay’s waters, looking for and reporting oil that has made it’s way from the Gulf and into the bay. The Coastal Watch boat goes out three times a day for approximately two to three hours at a time. When oil is spotted Coastal Watch reports in its lat/long immediately and, as I understand it, the Gulf Breeze fire department sends out a boat to skim the oil manually. Yesterday, Heather Reed of Pensacola’s Ecological Consulting Services was aboard and she took a sample of not only some of the oil spotted but some of the water as well. The oil is as vile as you’d expect it to be and it’s via Heather’s monitoring that this area will be able to keep a much tighter grip on where, when and how any of the oil’s finding it’s way into the bay. Coastal Watch’s crews consist of current and retired Coast Guard officers, Naval officers, Merchant Marines and civilians. Today with Marco White, we ran a circuit of the inner bay, deployed a small absorbent bundle and reported two areas of oil that were perhaps a week old. The Coastal Watch crews also monitor the booms that stretch across the entrances to the various bayous and marshlands in the area, constantly looking for any damage or oil build up. It’s a given that the oil spill is a complete environmental disaster that will most probably take decades to come to grips with. But knowing about and having the privilege to see groups like Bill Clark’s Coastal Watch in action helps tremendously for being reminded that the good in this world far, far out weigh the bad.
And speaking of marshes and bayous, there was another distressing number reported recently, one that is very hard to even begin to think about. Consider the oil's effect on the 13 million migratory birds that will begin arriving in the marshlands along the Gulf Coast late in the summer. I’m sure that Coastal Watch is already on it.
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