Yesterday, scientists were voicing their fears that the Gulf oil spill would get into the Loop Current, which flows east, through the Florida Keys, around the tip of Florida and then up the U.S. East Coast before heading into the Atlantic.This morning, Florida news sources are reporting that tar balls have washed up on Key West.
The state is running a lab analysis to see if the eight-inch-in-diameter tar balls have actually come from the Deepwater Horizon spill. Florida officials and scientists are fearful that the slick will suffocate the delicate coral reefs that form the Keys, as well as pollute the mangrove groves and white sand beaches of the Sunshine State.
While Florida officials discuss the possibility of oil in Biscayne Bay, Louisiana scientists have begun to confront the next nightmare scenario — a hurricane in the Gulf. Hurricane season officially begins on June 1. Typically, Colorado State University forecasters predict above-average activity for the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. Meanwhile researches at Florida State University are attempting to create computer models of what could happen, should a hurricane hit the Gulf. The modeling is hampered by the fact that no one knows where the slick will be in two weeks, coupled with the unknown action of hurricane strength winds on water covered with heavy density oil.
“My ‘oh, no’ thought,” LSU Director of the Wetland Biogeochemistry Institute, and coastal sciences professor Robert Twilley told the New York Times, “is that a hurricane would pick up that oil and move it, along with salt, up into interior regions of the state that I am convinced the oil will not reach otherwise. These systems will recover,” Twilley explained to the NYT. “It’s going to be the length of time that’s uncertain. And the important thing is, what happens in the meantime? What services do the wetlands provide the state of Louisiana? Fisheries, flood control, nutrient removal, habitat for ducks and nesting birds.”
Oil has already fingered 29 miles of Louisiana's shoreline, Gov. Bobby Jindal told The Advocate. Oil has impacted Trinity Island, Whiskey Island, South Pass, Chandeleur Islands, Fourchon Beach, Raccoon Island and Grand Isle.
Jindal also told The Advocate that an oil sheen was reported in Pass a Loutre and there were new, unconfirmed reports of oil on Marsh Island in Iberia Parish.