Surfrider's Emerald Coast Chapter participated in a joint effort scuba assessments on July 12th 2011. The Florida panhandle shallow seafloor sediment shows signs of the possible presence of dispersed oil.
A team of research divers scoured the Florida panhandle looking for signs of BP oil. What they did find was a desolate seafloor, with few signs of life. The sand should be tan or white and look like a desert floor with ripples and ridges of tan sand.
Marine life should be attracted to the disturbance of bottom sediments, with small fish darting into the cloud of silt and crabs scurrying away to bury themselves in hiding. Rays and starfish should be abundant. What they filmed was a scene of dark desolate bottom sediment where dark sediment ejected from the animal burrows sat in piles of contrasting colors. Could it be due to contamination from the BP oil spill?
One of the divers who has been researching the DWH disaster for the past year was alarmed by the lack of living things in the northwest Florida waters. Another diver, an environmental scientist, was shocked by the absence of bait fish during the 6 dives. As the dives progressed from east to west, the sediment conditions deteriorated considerably.
The sediment samples have been sent to a certified lab for chemical analysis and results will be back within a month. That's when we will know definitely what is lurking off the shores of the Florida panhandle.
In the meantime, ask your local representatives why BP isn't doing this kind of research to assure safety for the children and animals along the Gulf coast.
Additional in response to this effort the USCG, FEMA and BP finally met yesterday in Pensacola, to discuss the possibility of oil hitting our shores during a hurricane or major storm.