Tracking the spill: Skepticism and cautious optimism By Gay Nagle Myers / July 16, 2010 Share 1 -- ● Some numbers● First Lady visits Panama Beach● Along the Gulf Coast, relentless negative news deters tourists ● Tar sightings in Miss., Texas ● Officials urge tourists to visit the Gulf Coast ● Good news, bad news in Florida Panhandle ● A holiday weekend to forget● Amid oil spill fears, would-be Gulf vacationers head elsewhereBP capped the well on Thursday. It’s a temporary measure, and Gulf Coast business owners, residents and visitors from Galveston to Pensacola know it.No one is breaking out the bubbly just yet. Comments from the region indicate a mix of skepticism and cautious optimism.Jamie Munoz, a bar owner in New Orleans: "Let’s clean up and get our fishermen back to work."Shamarr Allen, a Bourbon Street trumpeter: "There’s a lot of years of cleaning ahead, a lot of no fishing. This is only the beginning of a long road to travel."Cheryl Kingsmill, a resident of Pensacola: "I’d like to see BP save all the turtles, porpoises and fish that are dying in the Gulf."A condo owner in Galveston: "Our beaches are clean. There have been no tar balls since one sighting two weeks ago, but TV stations from Houston have been here ever since, waiting for more evidence of the spill. Most of the vacation condos in town are booked for the rest of the summer, but negative headlines might prompt cancellations."And then there are the birds. The piping plovers already are flying toward peril. The endangered birds are among the first of millions that will migrate this fall to the Gulf and the oil leak that could kill them, according to Ken Rosenberg, conservation science director at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "It’s safe to say thousands will die," he said.Some birds spend winters along the Gulf Coast. Others use the Gulf as a staging area where they stock up on food before flying on to Latin America. The most effective way to protect birds is to clean affected beaches, according to Tom Moorman, director of conservation paniing for Ducks Unlimited’s southern region. He’s worried about the fates of shorebirds that use beach habitats.