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Gulf Coast beaches update

A worker helps pick up patches of oil and tar this week at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
A worker helps pick up patches of oil and tar this week at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Health officials have issued an advisory against swimming in Alabama Gulf waters
  • Visitors advised not to swim in waters from Florida-Alabama line to Perdido Key
  • Pensacola Beach, Florida, waters open for swimming and fishing
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(CNN) -- Oil coming ashore on the Gulf Coast has tourists keeping a close eye on conditions. States and visitors bureaus are 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:

Northwest Florida

Small bits of tar were found at Henderson Beach State Park, just east of Destin, over the weekend, according to the Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau. "These were easily removed, and no further oil has been spotted," said a post this week on the bureau's website.

The Emerald Coast area, which includes Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island, is urging travelers to visit.

"Our white-sand beaches remain open and our emerald-green waters remain clear. In addition, offshore fishing is still going strong, with captains simply taking a more easterly course and reporting great success out on the water," the site said.

Destin Mayor Sarah "Sam" Seevers told CNN a few, small tar balls came ashore this week but added that spotting occasional tar balls on the beach there is not unusual.

Video: Which Gulf beaches are open?

"We may go five years and not see any tar balls, and then we'll see a few. That's just a way of life on the Gulf of Mexico, Seevers said.

Navarre Beach is open, including waters for fishing, according to the Santa Rosa County website. Oil sheen and tar balls have been reported on the Alabama-Florida state line and off Navarre Beach.

iReport from Santa Rosa Beach

The water at Pensacola Beach is open for swimming and fishing, according to the Pensacola Bay Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The National Park Service reported heavier oiling at Perdido Key on Tuesday afternoon. A health advisory has been issued for beaches stretching from the Florida-Alabama line to the entrance of Johnson Beach on Perdido Key, the visitors bureau website said. Swimming and fishing in the affected waters are not advised.

The visitors bureau urges beachgoers to take precautions. "According to [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], tar balls do not pose a health risk to the average person, but visitors are advised not to pick them up," the website said.

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Mississippi and Florida

All of the Gulf Islands National Seashore sites are open, according to the National Park Service website. Light oil occurrences at Horn and Petit Bois islands in Mississippi and Fort Pickens and the Santa Rosa area in Florida have been cleaned up. Cleanup of heavier oiling at Perdido Key is ongoing.

Health departments in both states urge people to avoid swimming in areas affected by the oil spill.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama

In Alabama, the Department of Public Health has extended 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.

The U.S. Coast Guard has closed Perdido Pass, the main water access point to the town of Orange Beach.

The pier at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores is closed to fishing but open for sightseeing, according to the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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.

iReport from Grand Terre Island, Louisiana

"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.

iReport from Grand Isle

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