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Gulf oil spill: Visit to offshore islands finds a sea of orange

CHANDELEUR ISLANDS, Miss. — The barrier islands south of Gulfport, Miss., appeared relatively unscathed Wednesday from a brush Monday with British Petroleum oil covering 2,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico.

Bill and Will Seeman, father and son businessmen in Gulfport, wanted to check conditions on Chandeleur Islands after receiving a report that the oil had come ashore Monday. They took a ride to the islands Wednesday morning in their 28-foot open fishing boat, with a reporter in tow.

The sky reflected a hundred shades of blue off calm gulf waters. About 33 miles due south of Gulfport, the Seemans encountered what appeared to be oil broken up by the dispersant that disaster responders are spraying from the air.

The material looked like a flourescent orange highway winding along a part of the islands' west side near the southern tip. Will Seeman idled the boat so Bill Seeman could scoop up samples. The material beaded into very small, clear gelatinous droplets on his hand.

Seeman eventually spotted thin brown patches of oil within the fluorescent stream. Island marshes and sand appeared clean. Pelicans nested behind booms placed around one spit of marsh.

Seas were flat, the sky sunny. But they encountered no other recreational boaters, only Mississippi Department of Marine Resources vessels anchored on the north side of Ship Island.

"I'm relieved," Bill Seeman said. "I have to say, there appears to be little permanent damage, which is encouraging."

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