An Ecosystem in the Crosshairs

Each day I read a little more about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and each day I become less convinced that those in control have anything under control.  Even if the oil flow is successfully stopped today (after 36 days) I have heard no credible argument made that the damage to the Gulf’s ecosystem will be anything but severe.  The number of species at risk due to this event is simply staggering (more info here) and data from the Exxon Valdez incident indicates that the effects of this event will have significant longevity.

Notwithstanding the severity of damage in the immediate area of the spill there is also a disturbing potential that the effects may become more widespread.  I just returned from a trip to Key Largo during which we made a number of dives on some spectacular wrecks and coral reef formations.  The wrecks are covered with an amazing amount of sea life in the form of soft and hard corals as well as an amazing variety of fish.  The reefs are equally astounding with their abundance of life.

Unfortunately, the entire area of the Florida Keys is in the path of the Florida Current (more info here) which is primarily fed by the Loop Current (more info here) which in turn has the potential to pick up an unknown amount of oil from the spill.  Unfortunately, I believe that many people fail to understand the magnitude of loss if enough oil reaches the Florida Keys to disrupt the marine ecosystem.  For those who have had the benefit of snorkeling or diving in the Florida Keys, you know what I mean.  For those of you who have not, these photos are only a small sample of what is at stake.  Regardless of one’s political views or position on our continuing use of fossil fuels, it is my hope everyone can agree that such an astounding diversity of life is something that is of benefit to this generation and will hopefully remain so for future generations.

Key Largo Diving – Images by James White
To see more photos from Key Largo, please click here.

9 Responses to “An Ecosystem in the Crosshairs”

  1. Your writing and images come together so successfully. Thanks for the education without the snores. Can’t wait to pick up NGeo and find you there.

  2. Lee says:

    Wow, these are breathtaking, Gum. We might not agree politically sometimes, but I am so sickened at the thought of the damage that is happening to my beloved Gulf. You have truly captured the essence of what makes diving the Keys so special. Love, Lee

  3. rmsp angie says:

    I was going to leave almost the exact same comment as Chad.
    Stunning, but more importantly, so relevant.
    I truly hope to see more b&w work if you feel so inclined.

  4. Elaine L. says:

    Jimmy: Spectacular — is the only word that comes to mind to describe your photography. The color is unbelieveably vivid. Unfortunately none of us can vaguely imagine the devastation the oil spill is causing today and will continue potentially FOREVER. I am saddened knowing that NO ONE has control of the “loss” that is occuring. Perhaps you need to share your photography and post with BP. Maybe they would “get it” with your insight. Thanks. Elaine

  5. htweto says:

    That’s the stuff, Jimmy! I can see more of your terrestrial style/eye in these shots, which is a great thing…you must be getting more comfortable with the equipment/environment. Well done. Infuriating to see such a beautiful place threatened and to read the stories of BP’s incompetence and disregard for risk.

  6. mj says:

    It’s just heartbreaking.
    Beautiful photos Gum, you captured the essence of the keys beautifully.

  7. mel says:

    This is a great post in so many ways. It really shows your passion for blending photography with environmental activism. You’re developing a talent for blending writing with appropriate (and really good) images.

    Got a request. Can you figure out how to put captions on the photos here? I’d love to know what I’m looking at, especially the fish.

  8. preston says:

    stunning, eerie photos, Jimmie and eloquent words. preston

  9. chad says:

    jimmy, this post is amazing. i love that you’re using you talent and amazing eye to bring attention to this disaster. i hope that this oil spill doesn’t leave to lasting an impression on the gulf but i can’t see how it won’t. thanks for sharing these pics and i really love the black and white coral pic…absolutely beautiful…