I am so sad to tell my blog followers that "oil balls" began washing up on Pensacola Beach overnight.
Two weeks ago I completed an online HAZWOPER course which was required to continue sea turtle patrols if/when the oil made it to Pensacola Beach. Now that oil is washing in, we expect word to come down today which requires us start wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) during our patrols. Basic PPE for us would be rubber boots, a tyvek suit and gloves.
As I told a friend, in my worst nightmare I could not have dreamed of someday needing HAZWOPER credentials and Personal Protective Equipment to complete my sea turtle patrols in this place we call paradise.
Even worse is the fact that we are now into June and have not discovered a single sea turtle nest in our area (as of yesterday) which includes Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key, and the Santa Rosa and Ft. Pickens areas of Gulf Island National Seashore. The sea turtle species which nest in our area are already on either the threatened or endangered list and we have no idea how this eco-catastrophe is impacting them. I can wear protective gear during a patrol while the beach is being cleaned, but the sea turtles are basically swimming in a poison soup in some areas.
Many people in Florida, self included, fought to stop offshore drilling in our state, but I don't think most of us knew the extent to which we could be affected by the wells farther away. My heart breaks for the people of Louisiana, their shrimpers, their beautiful marshlands and estuaries, and the innocent wildlife which is being destroyed. The eco-system will be affected for decades and the whole Gulf Coast is grieving.
BP's current ad which states, "We will make this right," would be laughable if it wasn't such an affront. They have forever changed us, our way of life, and our beautiful Gulf water and beaches. This event can't be made right in our lifetime. Our children, grandchildren, and generations to come will be dealing with the aftermath. Yes, we will be able to clean up our beaches over time, but some of the more sensitive marine and wildlife could be lost forever.
Each of us would "like our life back", too, Mr. Hayward.