Gulf Oil Anniversary

Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 8:37am

One year ago, one of the worst ecological disasters the world has ever seen started off the Gulf Coast.

It was a year ago today that flames lit up the night sky in the Gulf of Mexico.

The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 crewmembers.

The resulting spill robbed the Gulf Coast of some of its most unique and precious resources.

The pictures from a mile below the surface are still haunting, and even a year later some of the oil is still in the water and the wetlands.

"300-miles of our coast continue to be oiled...” says Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindall. “But at the same time you're seeing a great re-birth, a great recovery story down here."

Fishermen and oystermen are back on the water, and shrimp season will start soon.

Test after rigorous test of the catch shows it is safe.

The bigger problem now, is convincing customers it’s ok.

"The perception of our seafood is probably the biggest challenge we have right now…" says Ewell Smith, Executive Director of Louisiana’s Seafood Promotion.

Sugar white sand glistens on Gulf Coast beaches.

A handful of tourists have replaced the sheen and tar that was there last year and more tourists are apparently on the way.

This is according to Florida Governor Rick Scott.

"Bookings are way up for our pan handle hotels and things like that, our charter captains are doing well so the economy has come back and we're doing really well here."

Economically, environmentally, there is evidence the wounds from the spill are beginning to heal.

Which is why for many, today is not the one year anniversary of the spill, but the beginning of the second year of a long recovery here.

Jay Gray NBC News, Venice, Louisiana.

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