All the dirt, news, culture and commentary for Oklahoma's second century.

Florida's Gulf beaches appear clean but what lies below the surface?

Andrew W. Griffin
Busy beaches on Florida's Emerald Coast over a year after devastating BP oil spill.
Fertile Ground Compost Service
Help support Red Dirt Report

DESTIN, Fla. – It has been over a year since BP’s Deepwater
Horizon disaster led to the soiling and polluting of the north-central portion
of the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil and the Corexit dispersant that was used to break-up the
oil, while poisoning the Gulf’s ecosystem and hurting workers and residents in the
process, washed up and/or lingered just offshore.

However, during a multiple-day visit to Florida’s Emerald Coast,
specifically the Sandestin beach resort here in Destin, we discovered that the
beaches are full of people, the famous white sands look like sugar and people
were out in the water, either unaware or unconcerned about the reports of
Corexit poisoning, sick marine life or other issues related to the April 2010
BP oil spill.

Your Red Dirt Reporter detected no oil anywhere or any odors
that were out of the ordinary during this visit to the Florida panhandle. We had heard that sand-sifting machines had removed a lot of oil but that miniscule oil particles were in the sand or buried beneath the surface where swimmers and sunbathers are none the wiser.

So, what of the nearby businesses? Here at Sandestin there
is a series of commercial retail developments that were surprisingly lacking in
tenants. Talking to a barista at a Starbucks in the development, we were told
that the BP oil spill had scared off a lot of their usual tourists and many of
the businesses had closed in the past year.

Further west, along Highway 98, restaurants appeared to be
thriving at the height of the summer season. A visit to a popular seafood
restaurant in Destin, one that serves plenty of shrimp and crawfish, was
absolutely packed with people chowing down and washing it all down with beer.

License plates could be seen from states ranging from
Alabama to Texas to Indiana. People were from everywhere, drawn to this
beautiful stretch of Florida coastline.

Still, with reports coming out about sick people, dead oysters, tainted
shrimp, sick and dying dolphins all along the coast (note this report from
nearby Orange Beach, Alabama), it appears that deep below the surface of the
Gulf is where the real problems are. Out of sight, out of mind, as the tired
old cliché goes.

In fact, speaking of Orange Beach, Red Dirt Report was looking to interview a resident of that Alabama
coastal community named Lisa Nelson. It is believed that while she was on the
beach last fall she was stricken with some sort of devastating “BP plague.”
Sadly, she reportedly passed away in March before we could talk to her. See this interview with Nelson here.

So, do we recommend coming back to the Gulf coast? Well, here in the hardest-hit area things seem pretty good. But it's what we don't see, offshore, that may be what we need to be concerned about.

Copyright 2011 West
Marie Media

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

read more

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

Member of the Oklahoma Press Association
Member of Investigative Reporters & Editors
Member of Diversity Business Association
Member of Uptown 23rd
Rotary Club of Bricktown OKC
Keep it Local OK