- protruding pollution plume appears to have largely dissipated.
- There was no strong signature from the satellite indicating algae blooms and such
- eyeing a mass of nutrient-rich water swirling around an eddy about 80 miles offshore from the Texas-Louisiana border.
RICK NEALE, FLORIDA TODAY firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIAN HARBOUR BEACH - So far, sickening scenarios of Hurricane Katrina-churned toxic tar balls, poisonous pollutants and debris washing ashore Brevard County beaches appear unfounded.
Scientists worried last week that a tendril of contaminated water, measuring 5 to 7 miles across, could sweep eastward from the Gulf of Mexico. This ribbon of sludge could flow north of Cuba and hit the Gulf Stream, turning northward to befoul Florida's eastern coast.
The protruding pollution plume appears to have largely dissipated. "We know that the water went by the Keys and up the east coast of Florida. But the water that went up there had been significantly diluted from what was there before," said Mitchell Roffer, founder of Roffer's Ocean Fish Forecasting Service.
"There was no strong signature from the satellite indicating algae blooms and such," he said. The Miami oceanographic firm uses satellite imagery, water sampling and fishermen's reports to track the movements of Katrina runoff in the Gulf of Mexico. It appears coastal damages could be confined to areas west of the Panhandle.
More specifically, Roffer is eyeing a mass of nutrient-rich water swirling around an eddy about 80 miles offshore from the Texas-Louisiana border. According to a report received Sunday by ROFFS, beaches along South Padre Island in Texas received an unwelcome batch of waterborne hurricane junk.
"They said they found a bunch of lumber, refrigerators, propane gas canisters, staircases, a boat and a bunch of other debris," said Greg Gawlikowski, satellite image analyst.
Amid the Texas wreckage, Gawlikowski said, was a ring buoy from a boat in Grand Isle, La. -- a 750-mile drive up the coast.
Satellite images notwithstanding, Melbourne Beach resident Tim McGlen believes Katrina debris could be reaching Brevard. He became suspicious Sunday about four miles south of Ocean Avenue.
"The plastic, in addition to all the other stuff, was predominantly water bottle caps -- hundreds of them. Where'd they come from?" McGlen asked. "All the bottled water they've been drinking down there."
McGlen also found six hypodermic needles.
Monday morning, Indialantic resident Pam Lee visited Paradise Beach with her 12-year-old granddaughter, Katelyn Doyle of Kansas City, Mo. Lee noticed increased beach debris over the weekend, but attributed it to the pounding waves.
"We've been out here the last three days, and I haven't seen any poop or anything like we were supposed to," Lee said. "There's been a lot of stuff (on the beach), but the surf's been really rough."
About 100 yards to the south, Howard Heidel of Indialantic fished for pompano. He said he hopes Katrina contaminants stay far from Brevard.
"As far as fishing goes, I'm just out here to relax and have a good time. Catching fish is secondary," Heidel said.
Contact Neale at 242-3638 or email@example.com