Tar balls of weathered oil began washing up along Gulf beaches at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge yesterday afternoon with the high tide at approximately 3:00 p.m. Cleanup crews began removing oil on the Fort Morgan Unit of the refuge yesterday evening and additional cleanup is planned on the refuge today.
The weathered oil is generally small patches from as small as a quarter to mats of oil of about two feet, about the size of a garbage can lid. It is sporadically distributed along the beaches.
Currently, refuge beaches and trails are open until further notice. However, effective June 4, the Alabama Department of Public Health has issued a swimming advisory for Gulf beaches, and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has closed Gulf waters in Alabama and Mobile Bay east of the ship channel to Little Point Clear to fishing.
Refuge staff will continue to monitor and respond to any impacts of oil to habitats or wildlife and will provide updates as necessary. We have laid more than 67,000 feet of boom to protect key bays and estuaries on the inshore waters of Mobile Bay that surround the refuge and marshes. On the Gulf Side, berms have been constructed across key gulf access points on the refuge to reduce risk of oil contamination.
“We are conducting a full-court press to protect our resources here at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge,” said Jereme Phillips, Refuge Manager. “We will continue to proactively work to protect this refuge.”
“We have two Loggerhead sea turtle nests and One Kemps Ridley sea turtle nest so far on the Fort Morgan peninsula,” he said. “We usually get 30 to 40 nests per year. It is still early in the season.”