Tourists enjoy oil free beaches
Many hopeful BP well cap works
Coverage: Gulf Coast Oil Spill
Whether casting a line from the Naples Pier or splashing in the gentle surf, vacationers in Naples continue to keep a watchful eye on the oil leak tainting the coastal environments of northern Florida and other Gulf states.
Rene Laria has come to Naples once a year to visit family. She and her 11-year-old daughter Brianna love to bait a line and fish away the afternoon, though, until Saturday, had never caught a single fish.
This year, however, with a leaking oil well spewing thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf, she watched the news with an eye toward what to expect on her vacation.
“I was hoping not to (see oil),” said Rene Laria, 36, of Elgin, Ill. “I guess we were anticipating it.”
With BP reporting that a temporary cap placed over the blown out pipe on Thursday has contained the oil flow until a permanent relief well can be completed, sun seekers were cautiously optimistic their favorite getaway and the greater environment could begin to recover.
“It’s working so we’re keeping our fingers crossed,” Laria said.
Her daughter Brianna had watched the news of the spill with her father.
“I think it’s really sad because all these animals are dying in their own environment,” Brianna said. She added that she was a little scared, but hopeful, that Naples would not be affected by the oil leak.
“We came here when we were little so I was hoping we could still enjoy it,” Brianna said.
David List, 44, along with his wife and four kids, of Knoxville, Tenn., have also been coming to Southwest Florida for years.
He said he was happy to see the containment cap in place and hopeful it would work, but the millions of barrels of crude drifting in the waters could still pose problems.
“I’m kind of worried about what’s going to happen,” List said. He and his wife hope to retire to Southwest Florida in seven or eight years and they had considered off-shore drilling’s impacts on any potential retirement plans.
“We also are looking at Savannah, Ga., if there was going to be oil for an extended period of time,” he said.
Marilyn Mauck, 51, of Cleveland changed her vacation plans when the oil threat became a costly gamble.
She canceled arrangements on Sanibel Island after hotel staff asked for the full payment up front and told her they could not guarantee a refund should oil come ashore, she said.
Mauck made alternative plans for Naples and Miami and, with a desire to stay on Florida’s west coast, settled on Naples when she saw the news that Naples was in the clear.
Still, she said she worried about future implications and was less than comforted by the temporary fix that took nearly three months to implement since the April 20 explosion.
“They weren’t sure how long (the cap) is going to work and that’s frustrating,” Mauck said.
Cassie Becker, 32, of Aurora, Ill., relocated to Naples on Thursday and said she had been monitoring the situation while preparing for her move. But the oil did not deter her.
She said if the crude found its way to the beaches of her new home, she would get trained and volunteer to help with cleanup.
“I’ve always loved it down here. ... The beaches are pristine. It’d be a shame (if they were impacted),” Becker said.
Connect with Tara E. McLaughlin at www.naplesnews.com/staff/tara-mclaughlin/