Tony D'eramo, Emerald Coast Surfrider board member and marine biologist
takes water samples on July 10. Photo courtesy Michael Sturdivant
As a component of the Not the Answer Campaign, The Emerald Coast Chapter of Surfrider Foundation has begun its "on the ground" efforts to test their local Gulf beach waters in Florida for oil and dispersants being used to 'clean up the oil'. They have adapted the Blue Water Taskforce Program to specifically address the oil spill disaster. They are starting to test for dispersants because no other agency or organization in Florida is testing for these chemicals. It is thanks to the diligence of the Emerald Coast Chapter that the agencies have at least stepped up their testing for oil at some beaches, but this data is not being shared with the public.
The lack of information being shared with the public is a major health risk to both residents and tourists as tar balls wash up on these shores daily. On Sunday there was a sheen in the waters as far east as Miramar Beach (Walton County) and multiple reports of health concerns, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, skin and eye irritations due to people entering the water. The Suncoast Chapter (St. Pete/Sarasota) and other FL chapters will likely be following suite if the underwater plumes sync with the loop current and make their way east.