Sunset - Captiva, Florida

This image was taken on the beaches of Captiva, Florida. One of the great beaches and wildlife areas in Florida's Southwest Coast. I usually make it to Sanibel/Captiva at least once a year, if only for one day of shooting.

This particular image was taken on the Captiva side of Blind's Pass, which is the demarcation line between Sanibel and Captiva. Before Hurricane Charlie, a strong current ran through Blind's Pass. The pass could only be crossed by the bridge separating the two islands or by a wily individual who was willing to brave the strong currents.

The jetties at Blind Pass are popular with fishermen. The pass is also popular with wading birds, Herons and Egrets, as well as a wide variety of shorebirds such as terns, skimmers, gulls, willets, sandpipers, ruddy turnstones, and others. In the days when Sanibel's Ding Darling was slow for avian photography, many would find solace at Blind's Pass, as you are virtually guaranteed to get some decent avian shots there along the shore.

Hurricane Charlie changed the landscape. No longer does a current run through blind's pass. The pass has been filled in by sand. You can now walk from Sanibel to Captiva. Most of the jetty is not over sand and not water. I laughed the last time I was there seeing a sign buried on the beach which read, "Dangerous Currents, No Swimming."

Blind's Pass is one of the spots of the most spectacular sunsets in Florida. Both Sanibel and Captiva and much of the Gulf Coast of Florida lives and dies by tourism and fishing. It is one of the most popular destination in winter for the snowbirds and summer for busy Floridians such as myself who are dying to get away from the City to chill out on the island and its environs.

Fortunately, we have had many years of support from both parties of government in keeping out offshore oil drilling from our Florida coast. With the current surge in gas prices, many are clamoring that we need to drill off of Florida. I am thankful to our Senator Mel Martinez and others in our Florida delegation who continue to fight hard to keep folks from drilling off of Florida.

The reason is simple. Drilling off of Florida will not solve any problem. We have plenty of oil in Alaska that is simply sold off rather than being used for domestic consumption due to lack of refineries. What we need is more refinery capacity. Moreover, the risks outweigh any benefits of drilling off of Florida. There is no evidence of any significant reserves of oil in the Gulf, and if there were, the risk of hurricanes or accidents and of an oil spill would be catastrophic to our coast.

As I've mentioned in previous essays, I am not some tree hugger or some PETA nut. I am one who understands the role of business and the importance of markets. Frankly, the price of gasoline in this Country is high due to taxes, world politics, environmental requirements, tariffs, and the lack of refinery capacity. We pay half of what Europe pays for gasoline. But the question is, do we risk killing our main industry in Florida, tourism, and our ecosystem and wildlife so you folks can save money filling your SUV's? The answer is no. The reality is that you will not save any money if drilling is allowed off of Florida. It is a farce.

Currently, there is an oil slick threatening the Delaware coast. It is believed to have originated from a tanker. If the currents and winds have their way, then you will see it hit the Delaware coast, ruining beaches and killing off shorebirds.

The same could happen here if these folks get their way. This would force the hotels to close up. The condos on the beach would be rendered worthless. Then the stores and restaurants would shut down. It would be an economic tragedy to our State should an oil spill cause serious contamination to our beaches. It would be a tragedy if our wildlife is killed by oil slicks.

Just look how something natural like the Red Tide in the Gulf last year adversely affected the fishing/sports fishing and tourist industry on the Gulf Coast. And that is minor compared to what an oil spill would cause to our shores.

Moreover, our wildlife and avian populations would be threatened as well. I spend a great deal of time in the swamps, the Everglades, and the Gulf Coast. I'll be damned if I allow anyone to ruin it. Fidel doesn't give a s*it whether he ruins the natural beauty of Cuba; as evidenced by the swill that permeates Havana and its environs. The fact that the bearded tyrant does not care about ruining the Gulf, does not mean that we should do it to. In any event, the reserves in the Gulf, if any, are so scant, they would not justify the cost and potential to ruin our precious coastlines. Cuba's been trying to drill out there for years and haven't gotten squat. There was a great editorial in the WSJ on a related issue http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110008286

I agree with those that say, if you drive an SUV or Hummer and complain about filling up your tank, well who told you to get one of those. To those who are driving hybrids, well, they're laughing right now.

The reality is that the market should dictate the price of gas. If the price gets too high, then perhaps folks will stop consumption and thus, the price will revert to a normal rate.

Drilling off of Florida is not going to solve the problem. Drilling in ANWR would help as would the addition of more refining capacity plus the repeal of the duty on imported ethanol.

Take a look at the images in my blog and my portfolios. Many of the images I've shot on the Gulf Coast and in the Everglades. Much of the ecosystem has been damaged already. It is our duty to protect it and preserve it for future generations. The future generations could not care less about your SUV’s. Let the market dictate prices and let’s do away with OPEC. You let the marketplace control and prices will stabilize. Let politicians run thing, and it will be a disaster.

If the other states want drilling off of their coast, that's fine by me so long as it's far enough way from my state. If they want to risk ruining their coasts, then so be; just don't ruin mine.

Thank God for Senator Mel Martinez and Gov. Bush for their efforts in keeping our Florida coasts pristine.