Question: We’re planning to visit Cuba in Feb 2011 and I’d like to know how the BP Oil Spill has affected Cuba’s beaches.
Answer: Although initially there was concern that the BP oil eruption would be pulled by the powerful Loop Current that circulates in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, dragging the oil as far as the Florida Keys, Miami, Cuba and possibly beyond, fortunately this has not happened.
The Gulf Loop Current is a dynamic, clockwise warm-water current that carries water from the Yucatan Channel north to the Gulf of Mexico, then eastward and looping to the south off Florida’s west coast, past the Dry Tortugas (located west of Key West) and into the Gulf Stream. This latter, also known as the Florida Current, passes very close to Cuba.
However, whereas the environmental impact of the BP eruption is considered to be among the world’s worst environmental catastrophes, even NOAA – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. – which has been on the scene from day one, has discontinued their trajectory forecasting and trajectory maps as of August 23rd, 2010, as no additional recoverable surface oil has been observed. According to NOAA officials, the northern end of the Loop Current remains separated from the large clockwise eddy (Eddy Franklin) so there continues to be no clear path for the BP-generated oil to enter the Loop Current from the source (BP’s Deepwater Horizon) in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This analysis assumes that the BP wellhead will remain permanently capped.
Nor have tar balls – a blob of oil that has been weathered after floating in the ocean – appeared on either Cuban beaches or in the Florida Keys whose composition has been identified with the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Nor have there been any beach warnings in Cuba related to the BP oil disaster.
So you can plan on swimming in Cuba’s beaches without problem.
Note: Also see the response to the following question, which has additional information about Cuba’s initial concerns:
We want to come to Cuba this summer but are unsure as to the latest information regarding the US oil spillage. We would be visiting Varadero and Havana at the end of July 2010. Do you have any information?