What if there was an oil spill off Tampa Bay?

Here is the ecological disaster we would face if an "oil volcano," as Gov. Charlie Crist calls it, were erupting underwater 50 miles off our shore instead of Louisiana's. Learn more about what we have to lose.


Threatened shores

Withlacoochee Bay

Withlacoochee Bay: Its wading bird rookeries, bald eagle nesting and feeding areas and fisheries would suffer from the bottom of the food chain up.

Honeymoon Island

Honeymoon Island: The oil would play havoc with its oyster and clam beds, polluting the water through which they filter their food. Honeymoon Island also has areas where shore birds and sea turtles nest and where migratory birds rest.

Cockroach Bay

Cockroach Bay: Susceptible to damage by oil are its extensive mangrove, marsh, oyster bars, tidal flats, Audubon sanctuary, sea grass restoration area and wading bird habitat.

Fort De Soto / Mullet Key:

Fort De Soto / Mullet Key: It has beaches, sea turtle nesting, habitat for shorebirds, wading birds, migratory bird resting area, mangrove and marsh habitat, tidal flats, sea grass. The sea grass and mangroves are particularly vulnerable to oil's effects.

Story by Craig Pittman. Graphics by Don Morris. Also contributing: Suzette Moyer and Darla Cameron.
Source: U.S. Coast Guard, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Geographic Response Plan; NOAA
What if there was an oil spill off Tampa Bay?
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As an experiment, the Times wanted to see what areas would be most affected if a spill like Deepwater Horizon occurred 50 miles off the Tampa Bay region's coastline, where the environment and the economy are, as they are in most of Florida, inextricably linked. | Read more about what we have to lose

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