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Gulf Coast beaches update

Workers clean up oil patches and tar this week in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Workers clean up oil patches and tar this week in Orange Beach, 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.

Most of Florida's beaches have not been affected by the oil disaster, according to Visit Florida, the state's tourism corporation.

"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.

The state has not closed any beaches. "Florida's 825 miles of beaches, 1,260 miles of coastline and 14 seaports, including cruise ships, remain open for business," the site said.

iReport: Track the oil disaster

Here are some of the latest updates from destinations affected by the oil disaster:

Northwest Florida

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 Emerald Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau's website 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.

"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.

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

Gulf Islands National Seashore

The National Park Service reported heavier oiling at Perdido Key earlier in the 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.

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.

More than 140 people participated in cleanup on Perdido Key, according to the park service. Undetonated military ordinance was found onshore during the cleanup, the service's website said. A naval explosives disposal team reportedly detonated the shell.

Crews of 40 participated in cleanup of light oiling at Fort Pickens and Navarre Beach, the park service's site said.

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."

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama

BP has purchased 10 additional beach-raking machines for more efficient cleanup at the urging of officials in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau website said.

The Alabama 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.

Perdido Pass, the main water access point to the town of Orange Beach, is closed to recreational boats for incoming tides. Boats may navigate the pass during outgoing tides, the visitors bureau site said. The pier at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores is closed to fishing but open for sightseeing, according to the 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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