- Posted July 8, 2010 by
Pensacola Beach, Florida
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Track the oil disaster
Tar Balls and Tar Patties on Pensacola Beach
- 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.