Oil coated the surface of the water along a revetment at the eastern side of Arawak Cay yesterday while, just around the corner, children took turns jumping into the sea.
Photos and videos of the pollution circulated on social media yesterday morning, raising concern over public safety given that the area is a popular venue for tourists, with Western Esplanade and Long Wharf Beach also nearby.
Moreover, numerous Fish Fry vendors store live conch in the water behind their restaurants, not far from where the oil was spotted. However, those vendors seemed relatively unconcerned, as workers could be observed tossing stringed conch into the sea.
Dwight Armbrister, whose business, D Waters Cafe Restaurant and Lounge, is over nine years old, said the conchs used by his restaurant have always been kept in that water.
He said he does not believe there is a need for concern on his part over the spill.
“Well, I am comfortable that the product we are serving from this establishment is certainly in good standing. We get them in daily, so there is no long period of storage in the water out front here,” he said.
“And I think that bodes well for the fact that if you have any kind of spillage or oil spill that is trapped wherever it is trapped, in the eastern border here, will have little effect on what we do here, because we don’t store them for long periods.
“I have a day rollover, and so what you see out here now just came here last night, and it will last for about two or three days and then a new fresh order comes in.
“So for contamination to take place, that would be very, very limited to the extent that it affects the overall product.”
Armbrister said he does believe, however, that more vigilance is necessary to prevent potential contaminants from entering the area.
“What you do have out here is a lot of jet ski operators,” he said.
“You have a lot of boat operators,” he said. “In fact, if you look right here, there’s a boat sitting right here and of course the cruise ships come in right there as well, and then you have a lot of boat operators, tour operators out in this front area.
“So, there is a possibility because they run with fuel, there’s always that possibility that you could have oil spillage or persons just being callous in just throwing motor oil that they would have mixed their gas with in the sea, not knowing that oil will always surface and be trapped.”
While he said that he hasn’t seen many oil spills in the area, he does have other environmental health concerns.
“We do have concerns with garbage disposal, but we are addressing that constantly every day,” he said.
Felton Sands, who prepares conch salad at the same business also expressed confidence that the conch would be unaffected by the oil.
“The environment is very safe,” he said.
“The water is nice and clean, and if we have any oil spills or anything, I know that people will deal with it right away.”
He added, “We pray that it doesn’t drift this way, but whatever happens, we’ll have to deal with it.”
Bahamas Public Parks & Public Beaches Authority Executive Chairman Shanendon Cartwright yesterday issued a statement on the matter, and noted that while there was no “immediate concern” for beachgoers, steps were being taken to contain the spill.
“The Bahamas Public Parks & Public Beaches Authority wishes to advise the beaching public that an oil spill has been discovered on the northern side of Arawak Cay,” he said.
“The Department of Environmental Health, Port Department and Oil Spill teams have been mobilized to assess and contain the concerned area.
“Presently there is no immediate concern for beach goers on Long Wharf Beach as the spill is restricted to an area, however, we are advising the public to proceed cautiously when approaching the area of concern.
“The Bahamas Public Parks & Public Beaches Authority will keep you updated on the containment process.”