The purpose of this report is to describe the search efforts and successful location of four underwater sites where exploratory oil wells were drilled in the vicinity of Key West, Florida in the late 1950s and early 1960s. This work was part of Phase One of a two-part MMS-funded study consisting of (1) location and verification of sites (Phase One) followed by (2) biological and geological assessment of the impact caused by drilling (Phase Two).
Key West, Florida, United States, Gulf of Mexico, North America, North Atlantic;
All the sites were marked with permanent buoys tied to the bottom and accurate LORAN-C TDs were taken at each site. The sites can easily be reoccupied even if the buoys are missing. Physical damage is fairly obvious, although the total area affected is small. What is yet to be determined is whether there was biological damage caused by drilling fluids and cuttings and whether the fauna have recovered to predrilling conditions. In the case of site D-E1, fish life is more abundant than in the adjacent areas because the cement bags and other debris provide shelter and thus serve as an artificial reef. The bottom fauna have been modified and, as pointed out in the BLM report, the alga Halimeda is abundant, whereas the surrounding area has more alcunarians and less Halimeda. This change is probably due to the blanket of pebbles that covers the hard substrate. The two remaining sites to the west of the Marquesas should not be difficult to find, given calm weather. We intend to search these sites in June or July of 1988. In addition, we feel that for environmental reasons the well in Florida Bay is extremely significant. This site should be located and a survey of its effects made.