Oil Spill Dampens Gulf Residents Busiest Holiday

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This is not a happy holiday for the tourism industry and other businesses along the Gulf coast as the BP oil spill is ruining what is normally their busiest season.

But there is a bit more hope on the horizon in the effort to cleanup the Gulf. The U.S. Coast Guard is spending the holiday testing the effectiveness of the world's largest oil skimmer, which is supposed to take in 20 million gallons of oil a day.

Just five miles from the spill site, this behemoth is called "a whale."

"Just that volume alone, it's worth looking at. It's the effectiveness now that remains to be seen," said U.S. Coast Guard  Adm. Paul F. Zukunft.

If all goes well, the huge converted tanker could be siphoning oil out of the Gulf of Mexico as early as next week. But that's still too late to turn around holiday business.

"This is the week that pays then for October, November, December, January and February" Shaul Zislin, a restaurant owner on the shores of Alabama, said. "So it's not whether you're profitable this week but are you profitable enough to then sustain throughout the off season?"
 
Zislin has seen a 50 percent drop in business from last Fourth of July, even though most beaches along the Gulf coast were still open this weekend.

"We've been able to get in the water and avoid the big black spots and have a good time," tourist Robbie Murden said.

While a handful of people are still enjoying themselves, the big black oily spots are keeping many others from enjoying a vacation along the Gulf coast.

But for those who do go, it's been hard to avoid tragic scenes of birds coated in oil and barely alive.

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