Pensacola and the Gulf Coast have already been hit hard by the Gulf Oil Spill — Escambia County is the hardest hit area in Florida. The last thing we need is additional pain — such asboat accidents or injuries in the cleanup zone.
That being said, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Boating and Waterways Section is asking all boaters to slow down in areas where oil cleanup is underway. Boaters should maintain a slow speed within 300 feet of any oil-containment booms or other cleanup equipment.
Large, cumbersome oil-skimming equipment is restricted in its ability to maneuver, so exercise extreme caution and comply with all navigational rules. Boaters need to employ proper lookouts for obstacles such as unmanned containment booms and be prepared to stay clear of booms and vessels.
The FWC warns that failure to operate at a slow speed in the cleanup zone could result in boat accidents, which could mean injuries and damage both to vessels and to containment booms.
Equally important, the wake from a vessel operating at anything above a very slow speed can swamp deployed booms and reduce their effectiveness, resulting in increased environmental damage.
Both the FWC and local marine units will be on the water to remind boaters to operate at slow speed. For more information, contact FWC captain Carol Keyser at 850-488-5600.
Strong Rip Currents at Pensacola Beach an Added Danger for Swimmers and Waders
Although very little oil has reached the surf line, recent rough surf from Hurricane Alex and a tropical low pressure system over the weekend have shifted the sand under Pensacola Beach’s shoreline.
A yellow flag warning was issued for July 9, warning weaker swimmers to say out of the water. All swimmers and waders need to exercise caution, however, because the shifts in the sandy bottom of the shoreline have created holes. Swimmers and waders may be in shallow water but find that a single step puts them in water over their heads.
If you will be out enjoying the water, have fun and stay safe!
- “FWC encourages boaters to slow down in areas of oil cleanup efforts” (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission news release, July 8, 2010)
- “Strong rip currents at Pensacola Beach” (Pensacola News Journal, July 9, 2010)