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Oil Coming Ashore at Gulf Islands National Seashore, South Florida Parks Still Oil-Free


A boom has been placed around a pier at Fort Pickens in Gulf Islands National Seashore with hopes of keeping oil off the beaches. NPS photo by Beckie Breeding-Mims.

A slurry of oil and tar balls roughly 2 miles long and a yard wide from the Deepwater Horizon disaster has been keeping cleanup crews busy at Gulf Islands National Seashore, though other parks in South Florida still have not been impacted by the oil.

While bad weather has hampered cleanup efforts at Petit Bois Island at the national seashore, a bit to the east crews have been working to deal with an oil slick approaching the Pensacola area. Specifically, booms have been deployed around Santa Rosa Island with hopes they'll keep oil off the island's white-sand beaches. "Additionally, plans are in place and will be implemented as circumstances dictate to help minimize impacts to park resources including historic forts, archeological sites, wildlife, and habitats," the National Park Service said.

If visitors to the Gulf Islands spy any oil, tar balls, or impacted wildlife, they're asked to call either 866-557-1401 (for wildlife issues) or 866-448-5816 (for oil on the beaches or shorelines).

Meanwhile, the area in the Gulf of Mexico closed to fishing by the National Marine Fisheries Service lies approximately 20 miles west of Dry Tortugas National Park.

"Given this information, the National Park Service is consulting with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to consider fisheries management strategies for Dry Tortugas National Park in keeping with this new information and any future changes to this information from the NMFS or NOAA," the Park Service said.

Meanwhile, all five NPS units in South Florida -- Dry Tortugas, Everglades, and Biscayne national parks and Big Cypress National Preserve and De Soto National Memorial -- are all open for business with no restrictions on park activities.

For more information on fisheries closures in the Gulf of Mexico, visit this site: .

Questions regarding the parks' ongoing oil spill response should be directed to the incident public information line at 305-224-4215.


The tip of the iceberg, probably. A worse disaster than the Valdez, probably. A catch 22 to be sure. We need the oil for our security but we can’t destroy the environment and the livelihood of so many. Punish BP severely for not taking the steps necessary to avoid this disaster, from what’s been published, and their blaming others, but unfortunately the damage has been done and we have to make the best of it.

This is magnitudes greater than the Exxon Valdez, and the EV was a huge disaster. I wish I could be more hopeful re: efforts to mitigate the damage. Once the oil is in the seawater it is largely out of human control. The volume of oil gushing into the gulf is beyond imagination. The ocean and the weather now have control of where it will go and how much damage will result.

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