Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Answers to Oil Spill Questions

As expected, many people are asking us about DRC’s response and plans should the oil spill reach the Keys. These questions will most likely increase now that some tar balls have been spotted in the Lower Keys. Dolphin Research Center appreciates everyone's concern and wants to address your questions.

Q: When is the oil spill going to reach the Keys?
A: Although tar balls were recently spotted in the Lower Keys, we are waiting for the results of an analysis to tell us whether they are a result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. If these tar balls are not connected to the oil spills, then we do not have a definitive answer on when or if the spill will reach the Keys.
In much the same way as can happen with hurricanes, situations frequently change. Sometimes, some areas in the Keys are directly affected while others are not. Dolphin Research Center continues to follow the reports of government officials throughout Florida, including the Florida Keys and the City of Marathon, who are monitoring the situation minute by minute. There are many factors at play such as: federal plans to attempt to keep the oil from spreading, what form the oil might be in if it reaches our shores (Tar balls as opposed to liquid crude oil, etc.), how much might reach the Keys and where, as well as the impact of prevailing weather conditions. These are just some of the things that will determine the extent to which our beautiful islands will be directly impacted.

Q: How and what are you going to specifically do to protect the dolphins and sea lions?
A: From the time that the oil spill first happened, Dolphin Research Center began formulating plans and aligning resources to keep the dolphins and sea lions safe. What we do specifically will depend on what form the oil is in if it reaches the Keys, how much arrives, and other factors.
We have access to different types of containment booms and are developing other methods to help block the substance from the lagoons. A representative of BP’s Incident Command has been on-site here at DRC to personally gain an understanding of our facility’s needs if the oil approaches Grassy Key.
There are additional strategies that we can employ and we will do whatever is necessary to protect the pod. Until we know more precisely what form the oil will take and the degree to which it might impact us, we cannot specifically say which strategy will be activated.

Q: Will DRC help with the clean-up efforts in the Keys?
A: Absolutely! In fact, we’ve already begun. There are preliminary beach and coastal cleanups underway. The more existing trash and debris that is collected from the shorelines and mangroves now, the easier it will be to remove oil or tar balls should they affect the Keys. At a recent bridge/shore cleanup, DRC staff and volunteers worked on land and by boat and hauled in over 30 large bags of debris.
Dolphin Research Center is the licensed Manatee Rescue Team for the Florida Keys. Members of DRC’s team have already completed training classes specific to oil response so that we can continue to perform this important service for any manatee that might be affected.

All of us who call the Florida Keys home value our beautiful islands and are committed to helping in whatever way possible.

Thank you for your questions and concerns about the dolphins, sea lions, and islands. Many people have asked how they can help DRC during this challenging time. Donations are always helpful and provide funds that we can use for whatever is necessary when it becomes necessary. Donations can be made on our website www.dolphins.org by clicking on Help DRC. Thank you!

We will continue to update this blog with additional information about the oil spill. In the meantime, if you have planned a vacation in the Florida Keys in the coming days or weeks, please do not rush to cancel those plans. Please continue to check this blog as well as the official Florida Keys website (www.fla-keys.com) for updates about the status of the oil spill and the Keys. The dolphins, sea lions and all of us at DRC would love to see you!


mn_me said...

thank you for the update and for all you are doing to protect the pod. my heart sank this morning when i heard about the tar balls in the lower keys.

my most memorable vacations have been in the keys with time spent at DRC. this oil spill has just sickened me with its potential for destruction of habitat and life itself.

let us know what we can do to help

Twin Cities, MN