Family vacations can bring all kinds of unexpected surprises. This was so true for my family in 1998 while we were lounging around the island of Elafonisios, off the coast of the Peloppenese peninsula in Greece. After spending two glorious days swimming and playing in the pristine waters and white sand beaches, we thought we were in paradise. On the third day we headed to the beach only to find workers scurrying about trying to capture tar balls out of the surf and on the beach. Word from the villagers told us an oil tanker was leaking oil about 30 kilometers away and it was washing up onto Elafonisios' beaches. We pitched in to help, but it was an endless process with only buckets and nets to capture the oil. Needless to say, the oil spill put an end to our stay there. We could only hope the villagers were able to clean up the mess before it affected the sea life and local birds. This experience has stayed with me over all these years and was the catalyst for my first water woozle story.
1.3 million gallons of petroleum are spilled into U.S. waters from vessels and pipelines in any given year according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
There is some good news.
The International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation has been tracking oil spills for more than four decades. Since the 1970's the rate of oils spills has dropped from 24.7 large oil spills per year to 1.7 oil spills by the 2010's. It is essential that this trend continue to decrease for the purity of our oceans.