[Coral-List] Deepwater Horizon and potential Keys impacts

Palandro, David David.Palandro at MyFWC.com
Sat May 15 08:29:31 EDT 2010

Hello all from the Sector Mobile Incident Command,
I am hoping to clarify some concerns related to the Deepwater Horizon well leak incident and how it may impact our beloved Florida Keys.  For those of you who know me understand that my day job is coral reef habitat mapping, monitoring, etc. and that I spend a fair amount of time in the Keys.
My current concern is as the Florida Scientific Support Coordinator for oil spill response and am working in Sector Mobile on these issues.  I am going to stick to the facts based on the current information:

1.       I have placed an image on http://www.truediveteam.org/news.html showing the Loop Current location with the southern extent of the oil derived from MODIS satellite imagery (5/13/10).  The distance is 45 miles.  This had been corroborated by the 0600 NOAA report that states a distance of 40 miles.  This does not specifically address tar balls or sub-surface oil.  However, the level of sub-surface oil is thought to be low as the initial product is 'sweet Louisiana crude'.

2.       Oil that MAY find its way down the Loop Current (surface) is expected to take a ABOUT a week to reach the Keys.

3.       The oil that MAY reach the Keys will be heavily weathered and expected to be dime to quarter sized tar balls.  I have placed a picture of charred tar balls found two days ago on the east end of Perdido Key, Florida on http://www.truediveteam.org/news.html.  There were a total of 3.

4.       Tar balls have minimum impact on coral reefs.  Physical contact should be minimized as they tend to stay on the surface.  Acute toxic impacts should be minimal because the volatiles/toxins should have been expended off early on.  There is an ongoing debate on long-term effects that are worthy of discussion when we find out the dose and exposure of the oil that reaches the Keys.
I hope that this helps those with questions and I hope that this is not misinterpreted as me saying 'don't worry'.  I simply wanted to present facts as they are and let folks draw their own conclusions. As you all know this is a very dynamic incident, and will remain that way until the well head is capped. This is not a oil spill similar to the Exxon Valdez ... as it stands now.
PS-I placed the images on the TRUE Dive Team website in the interest of time.

David Palandro, PhD
Research Scientist
Florida Scientific Support Coordinator for Oil Spill Response
Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
100 8th Ave SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 896-8626
(727) 492-8849 mobile
(727) 893-1679 fax

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