The month of May didn’t start well for the environment. In relation to the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill that is threatening the Gulf coast, Coast Guard official are estimating that at least 1.6 million gallons of oil could have been released. On May 1, the oil slick was calculated to be 130 miles long and 70 miles wide. In addition to negatively affecting the ocean, it has also reached the Louisiana shoreline, and it’s predicted to move into Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The Florida Keys is the home of North America’s only living coral barrier reef. So how can we prevent this disaster from spreading even further?
BP is under pressure from the White House to pay for all of the costs associated with this incident, but it’s uncertain to scientists on how much damage will be done. The consequences of the spill are dependent upon many uncertainties including the weather and ocean currents as well as how expediently the underwater well can be sealed off. While all of these ifs, ands and buts are up in the air, there is still hope for the affected area.
Training is underway at Elayn Hunt Correctional Centre to educate prisoners on how to clean oil from birds affected by the spill. Approximately 2,000 volunteers have been trained and are assisting with the marine protection booms, which will help preserve wildlife. In addition, oil containment booms are being put in place near the shores and inland near the entrance of canals. Already in Florida there are booms put in place for 90 percent of the most ecologically sensitive areas near Pensacola. This is important because May is hatching season for many species.
So how can you volunteer your time to this crisis?
Florida is a beautiful state to visit, so you can take a vacation early and get involved in these emergency efforts. Check out VolunteerFloridaDisaster.org for more detailed information.
If you’re already living in the area, you can be a helpful eye and watch the coastline for injured or oiled animals and report it to the Wildlife Distress Hotline at 1-866-557-1401. You can also report oiled shorelines to 1-866-448-5816. You can also contact First Call for Help at 850-595-5905 to register as a volunteer. Yet another way to help is to drop off needed items and materials such as Dawn detergent and linens to the Florida Wild Mammal Association (FWMA).
The ocean and wildlife is going to need all of the help we can offer so try to do anything you possibly can to assist with the cleanup and preventative efforts