When most people think of Key West they think of things like thriving reefs, umbrella drinks, Ernest Hemingway and conch fritters.

(Or if you’re like me, you think of that scene in Running Scared where Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines are roller skating through the island wearing custom airbush t-shirts)…

In fact probably the only thing that people don’t think of in association with Key West is oil. Until now…

Yesterday various blogs and news outlets began reporting that tar balls from the Macondo Well rupture began washing up on Key West beaches. According to our friends at Gawker, park rangers at Zachary Taylor State Park found 20 tarballs on the beach yesterday.


It is thought that the oil is hitching a ride on the Loop Current – a warm ocean current that cycles through the Gulf of Mexico before exiting through the Florida Straights.

It is feared that this same current could potentially carry the oil around the tip of Florida and up the Eastern seaboard. YIKES!

Naturally BP is denying that the oil being found in the Keys if from the Macondo Well spill. However satellite imagery from our partners at SkyTruth clearly show the slick has found its way into the loop current.

— UPDATE May 18th 7:46 PST —

CNN and other news agencies are reporting that according to the U.S. Coast Guard, the tar balls found in Key West are not from the Macondo Well spill.

“The conclusion that these tar balls are not from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill incident in no way diminishes the need to continue to aggressively identify and clean up tar ball-contaminated areas in the Florida Keys,” Capt. Pat DeQuattro, commanding officer of the Coast Guard’s Key West sector said. “We will continue to operate as a Unified Command and utilize funding through the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund until we have successfully identified any additional tar balls on the shoreline and completed cleanup efforts.”