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Oil disaster drives home dependence

June 26, 2010

For most of us who are consumed with making a living, raising families, paying bills and trying to find a little time for recreation, life flies by at an ever quickening pace.

Tired from the never-ending daily tasks, we sometimes lose sight of what really matters. Only when faced with a terrible sickness, a firing, an accident, death or near-death experience do we really remember our priorities.

What really counts in the scheme of things? In my case, fishing and boating.

Article Photos

Capt. George Tunison

The oil disaster brings this all home as our very way of life has become threatened. The very nursery of the Gulf of Mexico, the marshes, the backwaters of Louisiana, gone.

For how long? Twenty, 50, 100 years?

This week we had the first beach closings reported in north Florida.

BP memos say that if these new relief wells don't stop the flow of oil it possibly could go on for two to four years.

Dolphins, turtles, sharks and deep water fish like amberjack are moving closer to shore to escape the toxic waters. Mote Marine in Sarasota reported sightings of whale sharks three miles off the coast. These beautiful, giant animals usually are seen not less than 100 to 150 miles out.

We have been and continue to be terrible stewards of our earth and all the animal and marine life that we are responsible for. Currently, there is a floating mass of plastic trash, chemical sludge, and general debris much larger than the state of Texas, swirling in a circle current 200 miles off Hawaii. It's known as the Pacific Trash Vortex. Disgraceful.

Once again, as with Katrina, it's sad to see such a disjointed and ineffective federal response. President Obama has refused the help of 13 countries with very advanced oil recovery systems and tankers. He refuses to lift the Jones Act allowing foreign vessels in our waters unlike Presidents Bush and Clinton allowed in times of emergencies.

Sometimes, all right, reason, logic and good old common sense seems to vanish in this country

I always thought how wonderful it is to be a fishing guide and share my passion with others. Even though it's a lot of work, it's a labor of love. The outdoors, the beautiful sea, its creatures and all its glory. Every day I feel privileged to be alive, just to be part of it for the short ride that I have been granted.

Like many of us, I may be pressed into service as captain of an oil recovery vessel gathering oil, sick from the stench of it, broken hearted, laboring on dead water once teaming with life governed only by weather, bait, and tides. At the wheel, dreaming of what we had and what we've lost.

My biggest hope is that our state and local officials are preparing now and not depending on the Feds for action. It seems if we have to wait for them to get their act together we could have oil in Disney World.

What fish grows to four feet long, attains a weight of 100 pounds and eats 40 percent of its body weight each day? Injures people when it jumps out of the water and has the power to ruin the sport fishing industry of the Great Lakes and much of the surrounding economy?

The Asian carp that environmental scientists have warned about for years finally has showed up in the Great Lakes.

I have been watching this story for some time and have had hopes that the prevention measures currently employed will work. They have not. These critters grow like crazy and have the ability to wipe out the salmon and other sport fishing of the lakes and the Mississippi.

Let's all pray that in the future, a grouper sandwich and a pound of steamed shrimp won't be replaced by an Asian carp filet and fries.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at, or Flying Fins Sportfishing.



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