Pensacola shores threatened on Wednesday

By Jim Wallace - bio | email 

Pensacola, FL (WALB) –   The heaviest oil movement so far in the Gulf Crisis washed into the pass and onto the shores of Pensacola today.  Florida Fish and Wildlife officials confirm one dolphin beached itself there, and there were reports of two more dolphin beachings.

Long orange strings of oil and big black pools of oil could be seen in the Gulf, and pilots say closer to the shore line of Pensacola than ever before.  We flew with the Florida Fish and Wildlife researchers as they mapped the oil's location.

We took off from Destin's Airport on a Florida National Guard Sherpa for a daily tracking session.  We flew west over Pensacola, where we started to see heavy lines of oil, that our pilot said were miles off shore yesterday, but now we could see them hitting the shore.

Fish and Wildlife researchers mapped the oil with GPS computers. That information will be downloaded for all scientists and researchers working on the gulf oil crisis to track.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Research Associate Bryan Schoonard said "Basically it's a river of light sheen."

"These brown areas are of the sheen off a satellite from NASA. In the last couple of  hours that sheen has moved into the shore more. "

That is what you see the oil, moving to shore?  "Yep, we look for that stuff and we will report.  Sometimes it's a light sheen and sometimes we are seeing heavier stuff."

Florida officials say the oil appears to meander with the winds and tides, and today the wind blew eastward.  And this flight showed it's impacting Pensacola heavier than ever.

"Today was kind of disheartening because the product was right off the coast of Pensacola.  As you guys saw when we went over it was starting to get caught up in the waves and going on the beach," said Pilot Chief Warrant Officer Jay Burke.

All the researches and National Guard flight crew kept saying the same thing. A very sad sight, as the oil from the Gulf disaster keeps moving east, and closer to these beaches where so many Americans vacation."

Now that a tropical wave has formed south of Haiti, emergency officials are having to keep in mind plans about dealing with a hurricane in the gulf during this oil crisis.  They say they know it would surge the oil further inland, and maybe break up and spread the oil further in the Gulf.

Of course they said this oil crisis is enough for now, they don't need more clean up.

Tar balls were reportedly heavy in Walton County, but Florida officials say Pensacola's pass is their biggest concern yet in the Gulf Oil crisis.  There clean up crews will start 12 hour overnight shifts, to keep them from working in the heat of the day.

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