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OIL SPILL UPDATE: Pensacola Scuba Center provides on-site report

Scuba Diver on the Oriskany wreck off of Pensacola, FloridaMuch has been written about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Many in the scuba community have wondered about its effects on the local diving waters. We spoke with Kevin Freeland of Florida Dive Pros in Pensacola. Here’s what he had to say:

For those of us who live along the Gulf of Mexico and who make our living in the recreational SCUBA industry there is no doubt that the current BP oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico is a disaster by every possible interpretation of the word.  Its long term, short term and intermediate term affects are something that our leading scientific minds just can’t really even begin to wrap themselves around.

The depth of the spill, the currents of the Gulf, not knowing the true volume of the leak and dozens of other variables just leave us all with one big question mark as to what our possible futures hold.  Let there be no doubt, there will be an impact and it will be hard.  Just where the hardest hit will take place is yet to be fully understood or determined.

The Beaches and Dive Sites of Northwest Florida are open for business and the diving is great.  To date there have been no reports of either an oily sheen on the surface or of oil on our beaches.  The water temp is rising and the local divers are reporting large quantities of game and tropical fish on all near and off shore reefs.

Recent divers to the U.S.S. Oriskany, 25 miles offshore from Pensacola, report absolutely no sign of any sort of contaminations and that visibility was excellent.  Because of the fear surrounding the oil spill many of our usual visitors have cancelled plans to come to the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast.  This has resulted in plenty of vacancies at local hotels and plenty of bookable space on our local charter vessels.

No one can say for sure if or when Northwest Florida will feel the effects of this tragic spill, for now though local Divers, Fisherman and water sports enthusiasts of all types will continue to enjoy the blessings of Mother Nature that our beautiful Gulf Coast provides.   We will endeavor to make the most of whatever time we have and we will continue to hope for the best while not wishing the worst on anyone else.  Should the day dawn when we find our pristine shores soiled with oil, our marine wildlife threatened and our sub surface resources bathed in pollutants we will persevere and we will fight back.   The Gulf Coast is not just where we live, it is our way of life.

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