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Here is an update on the Gulf Coast Beaches:
Gulf Coast beaches update
By Marnie Hunter, CNN
(CNN) -- The oil spill on the Gulf Coast has states and visitors bureaus working hard to keep the public updated and reassure beach-bound travelers.
Here are some of the latest updates from destinations affected by the oil disaster:
The beaches and waters at Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island are open, said Mark Bellinger, director of the Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, which represents the three destinations.
"We're expecting the oil sheen, if the winds continue from the south ... we're expecting the oil sheen to hit our beaches sometime this week," Bellinger said.
"Now, if the winds change, then it will keep it offshore, and right now it's about four miles offshore," he said. "We haven't seen any tar balls since last week, which is good."
All of Florida's beaches remain open, according to Visit Florida, the state's tourism corporation. Scattered tar balls have been found from the Alabama-Florida state line east to Walton County.
"There have been no reports of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill-related oil products reaching the shore beyond the Northwest Florida region," Visit Florida's website said.
iReport: Share your photos of affected beaches
A portion of beach was closed Saturday in Panama City, Florida, after an oil container with BP markings washed ashore. There have been no oil impacts, the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau website said.
The water at Pensacola Beach is open for swimming and fishing, according to the Pensacola Bay Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
A health advisory has been issued for beaches stretching from the Florida-Alabama line to the entrance of Johnson Beach on Perdido Key, the Pensacola Bay Area visitors bureau said. Swimming and fishing in the affected waters are not advised.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
The National Park Service reported heavier oiling at Perdido Key last week. The area is part of the Florida portion of Gulf Islands National Seashore. All of the Gulf Islands National Seashore sites, which are located in Florida and Mississippi, are open, the park service's website said.
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, have experienced significant oiling, according to the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The City of Orange Beach is flying double red flags, meaning the waters are closed to the public. The Alabama Department of Public Health has issued an advisory against swimming in waters off Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan or in bay waters close to Fort Morgan, Bayou St. John, Terry Cove, Cotton Bayou or Old River.
The beaches remain open for sunbathing and walking, the visitors bureau site said.
Grand Isle, Louisiana
Oil is affecting more than 45 miles of Louisiana coast, according to a state emergency website, although most of the coast is unaffected.
"The primary affected area is from the mouth of the Mississippi River extending east. Over 75 percent of Louisiana's coastal waters extend westward from the mouth of the Mississippi River," according to the Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau website.
Grand Isle has closed its public beach, the site said.
[url=http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/06/obama-bp-compensation-fund-/1]Obama announces $20 billion for Gulf oil spill victims - The Oval: Tracking the Obama presidency[/url]
This may not be the worst man made disaster but I think it comes pretty close. I find it so frustrating that they can't make it stop! That helpless feeling that so many are feeling is very frustrating, especially those being directly impacted by the spill. Everyone is trying to do their best to help but it’s just a sad sad disaster.
Here is article about a little-known species of fish effected by the oil spill:
Little-known pancake batfish could be one of oil spill's early victims
By Kelly Lynch, CNN
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has already claimed many victims -- from pelicans to oyster beds and precious marshland. But there may be one more: a species only just recently discovered.
Scientifically known as halieutichthys aculeatus, it is not a thing of beauty. But it lives an anonymous sort of existence on the seabed of the Gulf, some 1,500 feet below the waves and -- like all marine life in the gulf -- plays its role in the food chain.
Its more digestible name is the Louisiana pancake batfish. And if oil stays deep under water, the gulf could lose it before it's even officially recognized as a species.
While scientists are uncertain what the long-range effects of the massive spill will be on the gulf's delicate balance of life and death and its complex food chain, the little-known Louisiana pancake batfish is a case in point of one species whose very existence is in that balance.
Dr. Prosanta Chakrabarty, an ichthyologist -- otherwise known as a fish biologist -- and assistant professor at Louisiana State University, found himself face-to-face with the little fish during a deep-sea trawl in the gulf with the university last fall.
"We were lucky to get four or five specimen," Chakrabarty said. "The variation we found was enough for me to be convinced that there was something new."
With a flat, round body resembling a pancake, as its name suggests, this species of batfish doesn't really look like a fish.
"If you make an oval between your thumb and forefinger, they're about that big. Their mouths and bulbous eyes are right in the front of their heads. You can't even see their faces if you look from above," Chakrabarty said.
Not only does it look odd; it also moves in mysterious ways. The Louisiana pancake batfish uses its foot-like fins, complete with an elbow, to push off the sea floor. Flapping its tail, it swiftly hops across the sand.
"They're not like a flounder; they are much more mobile, more like a pancake with feet. They're bizarre for what they look like and how they behave," Chakrabarty said.
Pancake batfish spend most of their days resting on the sandy bottom of the gulf. Chakrabarty says it's impossible to tell how many of them are in existence.
"During my trawl with LSU, we caught probably 100,000 fish and three of them were pancake batfish. It's a hard thing to guess from that what their population is, but since they're rare in museums, they're probably rare in the wild," Chakrabarty said.
And although it's not known exactly where they link into the food chain, he said tuna and marlin from the gulf have been found with Louisiana pancake batfish in their stomachs.
Even a possibility that one small species could disappear because of waters fouled by oil has scientists pondering what such an event would mean long-term for the gulf, and even beyond the gulf's waters.
"All of life on earth is a big book. All the extinct things are pages that are torn out of that book that muddle our history," Chakrabarty said.
He said what is most upsetting to him is that after 200 years of scientific study in the gulf, he estimates 98 percent of its marine life remains unknown. And with the United States' worst-ever environmental disaster still ongoing, could become unknown forever.
"We know about commercial fish and shrimp. But there are 1,500 meters of question mark between the well head and the surface about the animal life and we really know very, very little.
"We're making a trade-off between two habitats and putting the more fragile one at risk. If we lose the [pancake batfish], we're losing a big part of evolutionary history," Chakrabarty said.
Because it lives in the deep, the pancake batfish is not threatened by tar balls or the surface sheen of oil -- but by undersea oil plumes identified by researchers from the University of South Florida.
On June 8, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that tests done by the University's researchers proved the existence of subsurface oil clusters. BP continues to dispute the extent of the plumes.
But Chakrabarty says this subspecies of batfish could be wiped out even if it doesn't directly encounter oil. It lives on small invertebrates that are the foundation for the entire marine food chain in the gulf. And now it may be at risk of either losing its only source of food or ingesting an oil-coated dinner.
Chakrabarty says that one ray of hope for the newly discovered species are the oil-consuming bacteria that thrive on crude oil. They use enzymes to metabolize the oil into two products; new microorganisms and carbon dioxide. Essentially, it is as if they are sucking the oil out of the water.
Dr. Samantha Joye, a professor at the University of Georgia, recently returned from an expedition in the gulf to research the undersea plumes. While she acknowledged that the bacteria are certainly a good option for extracting oil from the water, she said they might not get the chance to do so.
"At present, oxygen concentrations exceed 2 mg/L (two milligrams per liter) but if concentrations drop below that, it would spell problems for any oxygen-requiring organisms," Joye wrote in a blog. And the oil-munching bacteria require oxygen to metabolize the oil.
The bacteria also exist in much higher quantities at the surface of the gulf where there is sunlight and warmth. Where this pancake batfish lives, at the very bottom, there are neither.
"Less than one percent of the microbial community in the gulf lives in the deep sea," Chakrabarty says. "It is so cold down there, one to two degrees Celsius, that they will move much more slowly to break down those micro-droplets of oil."
He is currently working on the original description of the Louisiana pancake batfish for the Journal of Fish Biology and says it should be published by August. By the time it reaches an audience, though, the entry may not describe a species that is, but a species that was.
Here is more updated information on this tragic spill:
Just how big a mess is the gulf oil spill?
Breakdown makes it easier to understand
BY SETH BORENSTEIN
WASHINGTON -- Let's see if we can wrap our minds around this oil spill.
Since the BP oil rig exploded April 20, about 126.3 million gallons of oil have gushed into the Gulf of Mexico. That is the worst-case scenario based on the government's range of barrels leaked daily and BP's calculations for the amount of oil siphoned off as of Monday.
The more optimistic figure is about 68 million gallons. But using the worst-case figure, here's some daunting stuff:
• The amount of oil spilled would fill 9,200 average size living rooms.
• The amount of oil spilled could fill the cavernous Superdome in New Orleans about one-seventh of the way up. On the other hand, it could fill 15 Washington Monuments and two-thirds of a 16th.
• If the oil were poured onto a football field -- complete with end zones -- it would measure nearly 100 yards high.
• If you put the oil in gallon milk jugs and lined them up, they would stretch about 11,000 miles. That's a round trip from the gulf to London -- BP's headquarters -- and a side trip from New Orleans to Washington.
• If you took the oil spilled in the gulf and converted it into gasoline, that would produce 58.6 million gallons of gas -- the amount American drivers burn every three hours and 43 minutes. It's enough gasoline to fill the tanks in nearly 3.7 million cars. And at $2.75 a gallon for gas, that's more than $161 million worth spilled into the gulf.
• If all the oil spilled were divided up and equal amounts given to every American, we would each get about four pop cans full.
On the other hand ...
Viewing it through some lenses, however, the spill may not seem huge. The Mississippi River pours as much water into the Gulf of Mexico in 38 seconds as BP's leak has gushed in two months.
For every gallon of oil that BP's well has gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, there are more than 5 billion gallons of water already in the gulf.
But another big number that BP's CEO Tony Hayward provided last week also offers some troubling news. The reservoir of oil that is the source for the leak is believed to hold about 2.1 billion gallons of oil.
That leaves about 2 billion gallons left to spew.
If the problem were never fixed, that would mean another two years of oil spilling, based on the current flow rate.
Here is new information about the oil leak cap:
Gulf oil spill: Cap reportedly is replaced on gushing oil well
June 23, 2010 | 7:50 pm
The logistics coordinator on board the ship that's been siphoning oil from a gushing well in the Gulf of Mexico says a cap has been reattached and is again capturing some of the crude.
The crew member on the bridge of the Discoverer Enterpriser says the cap was placed back on the gusher around 9 p.m. EDT. It had been off for more than 11 hours after being bumped by an underwater robot. The man asked not to be identified by name because he was not authorized to provide the information.
|bobby gindal, bp ceo, bp oil spill, bp sucks, environmental disaster, exxon valdez, gulf oil spill, leaking oil well, obama, oil covered birds, polluting beaches, top kill|
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