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May 3, 2010 2:38 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Oil expected to hit Florida beaches

Scientists say the Gulf oil spill could get into the what's called the Loop Current within a day, eventually carrying oil south along the Florida coast and into the Florida Keys.

Nick Shay, a physical oceanographer at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, said Monday once the oil enters the Loop Current, it likely will end up in the Keys and continue east into the Gulf Stream.

Shay says the oil could affect Florida's beaches, coral reefs, fisheries and ecosystem within a week. He described the Loop Current as similar to a "conveyor belt," sweeping around the Gulf, through the Keys and right up the East Coast. Shay says he cannot think of any scenario where the oil doesn't eventually reach the Florida Keys.

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