The Florida Keys Unique Wildlife Habitat
Due to its unique geography, the Florida Keys, composed of 1,700 islands that stretch 200 miles, have plant and wildlife that are more similar to the Caribbean Islands than to the rest of the United States. The Florida Keys are the only sub tropical marine eco system in the US. In fact, some of the plants and animals are not found anywhere else in the world.
Much effort and resources have been spent making sure that the Keys’ water as well as the fish and wildlife are restored, rehabilitated and conserved. In the Florida Keys the natural and the human communities are inseparable, with many people making their living off of the environment, whether by fishing or running cruises catering to tourists.
The Damage to the Florida Keys Environment from the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill
Immediately following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster on April 20th 2010, marine scientists spoke of the dangers of the oil being carried by the strong currents and spreading as far as the Florida Keys and Central Texas. As well as the oil itself, the chemicals used to disperse the oil could potentially cause damage, not only to surface creatures such as turtles and dolphins, but due to the huge amount of chemicals injected deep into the sea, the chances of harming deep sea reefs was also increased.
“At first we had a lot of concern about surface animals like turtles, whales and dolphins,” said Paul Montagna, a marine biologist at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, who studies Gulf reefs. “Now we’re concerned about everything.”
By June 9th, The University of South Florida confirmed that the oil plume in the Florida Keys was indeed a result of the oil spill of April 20th. Soon after this confirmation, marine scientists confirmed strange sightings such as dolphins and sharks showing up in shallow water off of the Florida coast as well as birds covered in oil crawling off into the marshes. The presence of the animals so close to the shore meant that their natural habitat was compromised to such a degree that they were fleeing the water of the Gulf and clustering in the clean water along the coast.
The Natural Resources Defense Council Report
A report released in November 2010 by the NRDC, contained eleven detailed interviews with individuals who were on the front lines during the time of the BP oil spill disaster. These individuals include local coastguards, environmental leaders and senior figures in the Marine Sanctuary Program.
Their report concludes that although widespread damage from the spill had not been immediately observed, the Keys’ location at the bottom of the watershed for the Gulf of Mexico means that the effects of the spill could still be felt in the future.
A further observation voiced, was that the dispersants used on the oil immediately after the spill, may prove to be more toxic to coral than the actual oil itself.
Despite the inflated media claims that the oil spill would immediately reach the Florida Keys and do serious damage to the wildlife and seafood, this was not the case. Nevertheless, many fishermen were negatively affected by the press and they claim that they experienced a substantial loss in earnings during this period.
Individuals from the Florida Keys area who believe that they have suffered financial loss due to the BP oil spill, should contact us today to find out about your rights and if you are eligible to make a claim for Loss of Subsistence.