As we all know, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach were impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. We received significant oil on the beach and in the water in June and July. However, since the well was capped in mid-July, no new oil has flowed into the Gulf and our impact has been minimal. Stormy weather in the Gulf does bring sporadic oil onto the beaches, but to date, that has been easy to clean and does not occur after the storm has passed.
- The Alabama Department of Public Health lifted all swimming advisories in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan on July 30. However, the department warns that there may still be sporadic oil on or near the beaches and discourages individuals from entering the water if there is visible oil present. Click here to read the press release published by the health department.
- Wind and wave action are the primary factors affecting where remaining emulsified oil appears. Cleaning machines continue to rake the beaches nightly and officials are researching which long-term cleaning techniques will be the most effective.
- The following back bay areas are open to boaters, but an ”Idle Speed Only, No Wake” order is in effect until further notice: Alabama waters south of a line running from the southernmost tip of Bear Point to the eastern shore of the mouth of Ono Harbor. This includes Bayou St. John, Terry Cove, Terry Cove Harbor, Cotton Bayou (including the Cotton Bayou boat launch), Perdido Pass and all canals entering these waters. Areas not listed here remain closed to all recreational vessels and watercraft.
- On August 16th, all Alabama state waters were re-opened for recreational and commercial fishing. In addition, the area north of Fort Morgan is also open to shrimping. State waters extend three miles from the coast. Anglers are reminded to stay clear of booms and booming operations, all working vessels, and areas with visible oil and/or sheen. The pier at Gulf State Park is also open for fishing. For full information, click here.
- Fishing of any kind is still prohibited in the closed area of federal waters, which currently includes an area off shore from Louisiana to Pensacola, Florida. To view a map of the closed area, go to http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/.
- The City of Gulf Shores has temporarily waived parking fees at public beach areas.
- The Little Lagoon Pass public access and parking area remains closed for an undetermined length of time. This area is being used as a staging area for beach cleaning operations. The same is true for the parking area under the bridge at the Florida Point beach access. The staging area at Gulf State Park Pavilion has been mostly cleared and the area is now fully accessible to the public.
- According to NOAA, tarballs DO NOT pose a health risk to the average person. However, beachgoers are advised not to pick them up or bury them and asked to report any sightings. To report sightings of oil or tarballs on the beach, please call 866-448-5816. To report oil impacts to wildlife, contact 866-557-1401.
- For detailed information about the Deepwater Horizon spill, visit the NOAA (http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/) or Deepwater Horizon (www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com) response sites.