Oil coats National Seashore near Pensacola Beach

12:55 PM, Jun 7, 2010   |    comments
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NAVARRE BEACH, Florida -- A coat of oil stretches for miles along the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and it sat there untouched most of the day Saturday.

It's the worst beached oil we've seen so far, with streams of oil dotting the coast as far as the eye can see.

"We don't know how long we'll ever get to be on our beaches again," said Glenda Patterson of Pensacola Beach.  "So it's a sad moment right now."

We first spotted the oil at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and it was still there at 5 p.m. when our crews went back to check on it.  This is despite press releases stating that any oil washing onshore would be picked up "immediately."

"This is my home," said Cassie Lee of Navarre Beach.  "This is my community and it's going to take generations for our sea life to come back."

Meanwhile, a wildlife recovery station has opened in Escambia County.  Slick-covered pelicans are starting to arrive, with crews nursing them back to health.

Gallery: Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

It's a labor-intensive job, scraping oil from inside the bird's mouth and all over their bodies.  Already in Florida, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife agency reports seven dead pelicans; 38 dead across the gulf region.

"We're prepared for the worst," said Tom MacKenzie of U.S. Fish & Wildlife.  "We have crews ready to respond quickly that are pre-positioned along the coast."

Crews have scooped up more than 500 of the tar globs. Off-shore skimmers have recovered a dozen larger tar mats.

Poll: Should the media continue to show images of oil spilled animals?

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