Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cay Sal Bank Still Free of Surface Pollution from the Horizon Spill

I recently participated in the third trip to the Cay Sal Bank aboard HMBS Nassau. This expedition visited the Cay Sal Bank to collect pre-impact assessment data including sediment samples on the beaches. The seabirds are in fantastic condition with no sign of oiling. Thousands of chicks of Sooty Terns, Brown Noddies, Bridled Terns, and Audubon's Shearwaters were on one of the cays.

It appears that the very strong easterly winds of the last 3 months have saved the Cay Sal Bank in the short term, for which I am very happy. Now the question is when will those winds stop blowing, allowing the loop current to begin funneling oil out into the Gulf Stream, how toxic will that degraded oil be, and how much damage is being done to the ecosystem underneath the water. The effects of the spill could play out over many years, but at least the direct effects that many of us feared at first have not impacted the islands along the Gulf Stream so far.

Having seen what an unspoiled, wild place the Cay Sal Bank is, I hope it can be recognized as a biosphere reserve and a model for what an island ecosystem should look like when left as a wilderness. Here's to hoping that oil leases and development plans for the Bank are never sold or fulfilled.