Friday, May 21, 2010

Oil Sheen Hundreds of Miles from Florida Keys!

The following information was made available today (May 21st) by Florida Keys officials.

Oil trajectory maps, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show light and very light sheens of oil and scattered tar balls from the Gulf oil spill in the Loop Current remaining well to the west of the Florida Keys through Sunday.

According to NOAA, the forecast position of the southern point of the sheen on Sunday is about 300 miles to the west of Key West.

Meanwhile, NOAA analysis show most of the oil, especially heavy concentrations, has not entered the Loop Current.

During a news conference late Thursday, NOAA administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco reiterated that finding and stated, "If you look at the satellite images, it is obvious that the bulk of the oil is far away from the Loop Current."

If any of the oil makes it to the vicinity of the Florida Straits, it would be highly weathered and both the natural process of evaporation and the application of dispersants would reduce the oil volume significantly, Lubchenco said.

Oil entrained in the Loop Current would require persistent onshore winds or an eddy on the edge of the Loop Current for it to reach the Florida shoreline. If this were to occur, the weathered and diluted oil would likely appear in isolated locations in the form of tar balls, NOAA wrote in a statement.

Currently, there are no advisories recommending against travel to the Florida Keys or any other precautions advising visitors and residents not to engage in fishing, diving, swimming or other water sports, according to the Monroe County Health Department. Seafood from Florida Keys waters is safe to eat, officials said.

Federal, state and local environmental and emergency management agencies have met several times to review and modify mitigation strategies if a response to an oil threat is required for the Keys.

On Thursday, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist added Monroe County, in the Florida Keys, to a list of two dozen Florida counties already under a state of emergency declaration. Even though no Florida county has seen oil yet, the declaration was issued so counties can pre-qualify for federal reimbursement funding and individual business loans, if needed.

With this news, it's clear that the Florida Keys are still in excellent condition. The islands are ready to welcome you for a fun-filled vacation with all of your favorite activities on, in and around the water. Come on down and visit. All of the dolphins, sea lions and people at DRC will love to see you!