Florida residents have photographed nearly every mile of the state’s 825 miles of beaches, part of a campaign launched by Florida’s tourism officials to show the world that its beaches are as clean and beautiful as they were before BP’s disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The results of the “Beach Walk” campaign, heralded by Florida as the largest beach walk of its kind in the world, are now visible on the state’s tourism website VisitFlorida.com. The interactive 4,500-image gallery consists of a state map with clickable miles along the coast. Clicking on a mile reveals a small set of images taken by volunteers who chose to walk and photograph that mile. Nearly 4,000 volunteers participated in the “Great Florida Beach Walk.”
Mile one is set on Perdido Key just across the Alabama border. The miles then wind down the Gulf coast to the peninsula’s southern tip, through the Keys, and up the Atlantic coastline, with mile 825 located near Fort Clinch State Park on the Georgia border. Of course, Florida has many more miles of coastline (enough to stretch from Miami all the way to California and half way back again) but not all of them are beach miles.
According to VisitFlorida.com, the Beach Walk images “show beautiful conditions on beaches all around Florida – and a statewide spirit of revelry among Floridians in the wake of a stressful summer.”
Although only small portions of Florida’s panhandle coastline were affected by BP’s massive oil spill, tourism-related industries throughout the entire state suffered as the gushing oil dominated the news for weeks in peak beach season, leading many vacationers to cancel their plans to visit. The Beach Walk campaign was part of an ongoing attempt by the state to reassure potential vacationers that its beaches are clean and safe.
BP gave the state of Florida $25 million in May to battle the negative publicity caused by the giant oil spill, which had many scientists worried could spread to the Keys and up the Atlantic coast via the Gulf’s loop current. To date, BP has invested more than $1 billion in Florida for the payout of grants and claims, and to fund recovery costs.
Cleanup efforts are ongoing along the panhandle’s coasts, and many individuals and businesses continue to deal with the aftermath of the oil spill.