An Account of the Oil Spill

May 14, 2010
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has plagued the news for months, but it seems as time has worn on, it has faded slightly into the media and become ‘old news’. However, for people among the Gulf Coast, the threat of the oil to the endangered animals, estuaries, and industry is very real. I shall take you through a journey of the Gulf Coast under threat of the oil and hopefully present some real insight rather than the simple figures and statistics the media seems so fond of flaunting (as if anyone really knows what any of them mean).



A thriving tourist town in coastal Alabama. It is a nice enough place with beaches like those out of a vacation magazine. The oil has not yet lapped along its coasts, but the threat of it doing just that is always present. Deciding to see the beach for myself, I went on a walk down the coast, an approximate distance of maybe four miles. As I walked all seemed normal. The waves were roaring in. The beach was emptier than usual, and it had been since the oil spill. Hundreds of people canceled their reservations at hotels and condos the moment the news was released. Businesses were immediately threatened from the loss of the tourist industry, and one of my classmates solemnly remarked that the oil spill had the power to turn our town into a ghost town.



Along my walk, though, I saw a dead catfish. Of course, it could have been a coincidence, but I was filled to the brim with dread, remembering the reports of dead birds and dolphins in the area. The oil had yet to actually make landfall, and already the fishermen and shrimpers were ordered to stop fishing. Silently, I preyed there would be no more dead animals on my walk, and at first, it seemed there wouldn’t be. Unfortunately, I was wrong.



The next fish was a blue fin, nearly two feet long. I felt a sudden tightness in my throat as I stared at the dead fish, reminding me of how beautiful and vibrant it would’ve looked alive. Truly, I must’ve felt a need to torture myself, for I continued walking. I’d walked that stretch of beach before and found nothing. In total, there were eight fish, all staring at me sightlessly.



The next day, I smelled oil. The scent hung in the air, permeating through the rolled-up car windows, and there was barely any traffic as a rode to school. I stopped at the Walmart for my daily dose of caffeine, and I overheard a man talking about how sticky the ocean felt the day before. Another lady was quick to agree.



My town is in peril, and it’s too real to comprehend. Still, morbidly, life continues. The oil spill is a disaster on a large scale, but it’s a disaster on many smaller scales, too. For me, this disaster is everything because it’s shutting my vibrant, beautiful town down.





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