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    Posted July 8, 2010 by
    Pensacola Beach, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Track the oil disaster

    More from LostSole

    Tar Balls and Tar Patties on Pensacola Beach


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     LostSole didn't write 'Save Me' in the sand, but he did take the picture. The shot of the pink flip-flop became part of his ongoing project documenting lost shoes around the country, and says he hopes his newborn daughter will be able to experience a clean beach in Pensacola someday.
    - nsaidi, CNN iReport producer

    On June 30th, 2010 I went out to Pensacola Beach to do a quick photoshoot for work. On the way home I decided to check out our beaches and see if there were more oil on them as result of the huge waves churned up by Hurricane Alex. While I did not see the “tar mats” like I saw last time I was there when I snapped the image of Lost Sole #359, there were copious amounts of “tar balls" that dotted the edge of the incoming surf. So all in all the beach looked fairly clean...on the surface at least.




    I am sure many of you have been hearing this term for some time now, and probably wondered what a tar ball is exactly. It can be most easily described as looking like a pile of dog poop and has the same consistency (sadly I know this because I have picked up a ton of it because of my dogs Jack and Jinjer). While walking the water’s edge where most of the tar accumulates I spotted Lost Sole #360.


    I knelt down to get a good angle in what appeared to be clean sand. But what I quickly found out was that just below the surface, perhaps a quarter of an inch, was a layer of sticky, thick tar! The incoming surf had just covered the big tar patties with sand.


    In the process I also used my elbow to prop the camera and it too had nasty brown tar on it when I lifted it up. I was disgusted, I could not believe this was a toxic hazard that I had to encounter on our once pristine beaches.


    I now know what they are talking about when people described on TV what they went through trying to remove it. It was near impossible to get off, I had to rub and rub. It did burn, not from the substance itself, but rather from taking off 5 layers of skin trying to remove the gunk. I also got it all over my flip flops and tracked it into the van, which I did not realize until I got home AARRRGGGH!!! I got it on my shorts as well which required turpentine to remove.


    A neighbor who is unable to get out to the beach had asked me a few days before this that the next time I went out to the beach that I would grab him a tar paddy and bring it to him to see. I uploaded the image of what they tar patty looked like after sitting in my hot car for a few minutes. The fumes that were given off when I took the lid of the container made me sick instantly and I recognized the smell as the same scent that we have been smelling when the wind blows from the south. I am no scientist but those fumes cannot be good for us at all.

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