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I love the Whitsundays
Kelli Medford - Sunday, June 13, 2010
I watch every day with fear and tripidation with what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico and the environemental disaster that is unfolding each minute. It's a subject that I hold dear to my heart for a few reasons.
One, I grew up in that area of the world and lived and played along the Gulf of Mexico for almost 20 years. I know that it's not these peoples livelihood that is being effected it's the rest of their lives, FOREVER. Everything I did, when I lived along the coast, was connected to the ocean. The food we ate, our sport, our outdoor lifestyle, and our income was somehow connected to beach, the sea, and the vast wetlands around us. This one disaster will be handed down to many generations to deal with as we will not know the long term effects until they happen. Unless they come up with some sort of cleanup system that not only cleans the surface oil but the blobs of oil (the size of footy fields and from some reports small towns) that are floating beneath the surface and close to the bottom of the ocean. The southern part of America will be recovering for a while and the after effects will be felt around the planet for years to come.
The second reason I think about the BP oil spill is that I now live in another part of the world that is on the coast and maintains a delicate balance to produce some of the most spetacular scenery Mother Nature has on offer. The Whitsunday region and more importantly, the Great Barrier Reef, would never survive an environmental massacre like the Gulf of Mexico is taking right now. I know we do not have drilling wells after the Royal Commissions, federal, and state governments ceased allowing petroleum drilling on the Great Barrier Reef. (A study in 1990 concluded that the reef is too young to contain oil reserves-thank god) Oil drilling remains prohibited on the Great Barrier Reef, yet oil spills due to shipping routes are still a threat to the reef system, with a total of 282 oil spills between 1987-2002. Thankfully none of them have caused permanent damage and been quickly contained.
I know it's safer for the liners to travel inside the reef system than the outer edge, because if they do have a mechanical problem they can anchor up and repair themselves in calmer waters. The waters on the outer part of the Great Barrier Reef are to deep to anchor and the vessel could possibly end up crashing into the the reef system because they can not anchor. But we should make sure it is mandatory that all ships that pass through are double hulled, have a Reef Pilot on board that knows the waters, and has the most modern environmental clean up procedures on board. Hefty fines (like billions of $) should apply for any breaches of these rules.
I don't ever want to be in a position like BP and the USA are in now, talking about what they should have done and how they will prevent this in the future. There is no future for most of the families along the Lousiana coast that rely on these waters. Even if they get it clean, who is going to eat an oyster from the gulf region in the next 10 years? Who is going to even think about planning a fishing trip to the Lousiana wetlands when they assume it will be tainted with oil and tar balls? Who is going to move to these regions knowing most people are out of work?
The Whitsunday Islands and reef systems are some of the most beautiful parts of the world and I hope one day everyone will get to witness a whale breaching in turquoise waters, a sea turtle swim between your legs while your casualy checking out the vibrant corals, or a mantaray leap out of the water and then glide along next to your boat. If we are diligent about keeping it clean then someday everyone can witness these amazing sites for many generations to come.
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