Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Walk on the Beach Part 5 To Sum it Up

Mississippi Coast Line Waveland to Biloxi

 While in Mississippi, we spent four days on the beaches. We had wanted to spend more time, but due to things we could not control, 4 days was all we had. As said before, we know that every day is a new day on the beaches. One day it could look perfect and the next the tides could bring up all kinds of junk. Some might have said we should have covered the same beach every day we went out. But we had something in mind when we started and we wanted to cover all beaches from Waveland to Gulfport.

  What we wanted to see was if there a difference between the beaches in different cities. Are some cities taking better care of their beaches? Was there a difference in the beaches as you moved from East to West? What we found was interesting, at least on the days we observed things.  I want to note here that we have many friends that walk these beaches daily. They have found very bad conditions is areas we found good. I can not stress enough at how this areas change from day to day, or even by the minute!
  We are not scientist or experts. While on these beaches we did not take water or sand samples. We did not test the tar balls or mats. Everything we did was purely visual. But, with this being said, we feel that it does not take a scientist to get a grasp of whats going on at these beaches. All you need is a brain and some common sense.

One of the things we wanted to see was what the beaches were like from one end to the other. Did they appear to get better, worse, or stay the same through out. From what we saw on the days we went, there was a clear difference going east to west. In Gulfport where we started the beaches were awful. Lots of dead animals and a ton of tar, in the form of huge tar balls and tar mats. As we moved west things changed. The tar balls got smaller and there were fewer, till there were none to be found. Note that this is can not be labeled as exact science. Giving that we did not walk this area (from gulfport to waveland) everyday  for many days. This is just something we noted. The fact that we saw beach crews out on a number of occasions on different beaches could explain why fewer tar balls were found in certain places. What it does not explain is why the tar balls in Gulfport were much bigger then those found closer to Pass Christian. Could there be a bigger build up of Tar in the Gulfport area?

We also wanted to see how different cities were taking care of their beaches. If we had to label one beach the best, Waveland would clearly win and Gulfport would be the worst. Again, this is only judging on what we saw in the days we observed. It was clear that Waveland "seemed" to be doing the most work at cleaning the beaches, cleaning up both animals and tar. It was also clear that there was little to no clean up from Gulfport to Long Beach. In the cities of Long Beach and Pass Christian it appeared that there idea of cleaning was get the tar off the beaches, and throwing all the dead animals in the sand to be covered by blowing sand. 

 Most of the dead animals found on the beaches where catfish and rays, bottom feeders. This added with the presents of Tar, makes one wonder why the died. We recognized that some of these had clearly died at the hands of fishermen, but what about the rest. Common sense and the knowledge of the food chain would make one come to the conclusion that its the tar. With Tar on the gulf floor small organisms and bottom feeders would clearly consume  it. Of course, this Tar is also mixed with Corexit, the dispersant used to make the oil fall to the bottom of the gulf floor. With the small organisms and bottom feeders consuming this, it would the spread to the rest of the food chain, as they are consumed. Again, this is not science, its common sense. Anyone who can not see this, well, I don't know what else to say to you. It is basic science and common sense.

 It is very important to know why these animals are dying. BP, NOAA, and our Government will not tell us. Why? We know that these area's depend on tourist. But there comes a time when one has to ask if bringing tourist to an area is worth the risk. It is clear, to us, that these areas are more concerned with making money from tourism then they care about the health of their residents and those tourist. Everyday we saw people of all ages scattered along the beaches and in the water. We witnessed people laying feet away from dead animals. People (including babies) in the water were the beaches were filled with tar balls. People fishing along the piers. It was just unbelievable. To be honest (and I know this is harsh) there is just no reason for this amount of stupid. At some point you would think people would realize that at the end of the day, regardless of what is killing all the dolphins, turtles, and other sea life...the fact is they are dying! They are dying, washing up on the beach, and then being left there by these cities to rot. This in itself is hazardous. These rotting animals can spread disease. Some barefoot beach goer could step on the rotting remains, and maybe even have a bone go through their foot. And lets not forget, how you would feel laying down on the beach to only realize there is a dead dog next to you! Why are these animals being left on the beaches?

 It is in our opinion that the beaches of Mississippi are not only unsafe, they are hazardous to ones health.  We will not, now and maybe even ever, go to these beaches for recreational reasons or allow Linden to step foot on them. Since we are not scientist we can not prove that the seafood from the gulf is harmful. We would think that the fact that hundreds of Dolphins and sea turtles, and thousands of other sea life are washing ashore, it would be in ones best interest to stay away from it. We know that the government is saying it is safe, and maybe it is. But with the amount of dead animals and the unbelievable amount of sick people in the area, it is more then enough for us to question it! Do NOT eat anything out of the gulf! Do NOT swim in the Gulf! And if you go to the beach be VERY careful!

With all that being said, this does NOT mean you have to stay away from the Mississippi gulf all together! There are plenty of things you can do in these cities without going to the beaches. From Waveland to Biloxi there is more to the area then the beaches. From historical sites like Beauvoir, The Jefferson Davis home to Art and Children's museums, amazing spas to award winning golf courses, amazing dining (non-seafood) to great nightlife to Casino galore! There are tons of things to do in this area. There is more to Mississippi then the beaches.

 I would like to address one more thing here. Eric grew up on these beaches. He has and always will consider Mississippi his home, even though he has not lived there for many years. It is not easy for him to see his home in this state. There has been several people accuse him of "Not caring" about Mississippi anymore. They have made it seem as if he really cared he would not be doing or saying these sort of things. That he wold know how important tourism is for the area, and we would never try to harm that. I find this completely ridiculous. Why would he bother spreading awareness on this matter if he didn't care?  The truth is, Eric is deeply concerned for his family, his friends, and all the people of the gulf coast. He fears for their safety. To him the safety of the people on the coast is far more important then the money from tourist. Anyone who would ever question his love for Mississippi or think he would EVER put money over life, obviously does not know him at all.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Walk on the Beach Part 4

On May 11th, Eric went out on his own to check out the beaches of Waveland, Bay Saint Louis, and the Bay. We had drove this area many times while in Ms. and saw many clean up crews working up and down these beaches often. We did not expect to find much in the area, and we were right. Eric covered the beaches and alot of the Bay. Of course, much of the bay is marsh, so not all of it was covered.

The beaches were clean of tar and very few dead animals. Eric was amazed at how great they looked. While out, he ran into a worker of the Ms Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). They talked for a bit about what MDEQ's role is and how things were going on the beaches. The man said that MDEQ was taking samples of water, sand, and animals (excluding dolphins and turtles) that washed ashore. He said that they are still finding tar balls, and are trying to keep them cleaned. The man said that they were monitoring the situation and BP. Of course, Eric knew that this was probably what MDEQ wants people to think, and knew that the man could have said anything, but it didn't make it fact. But what was clear to Eric, was on this day, the beaches looked great, everything "looked" normal. Except still no Pelicans.

Crab having a snack

This shark was found in the Bay. No idea how it died, but its jaw and dorsal fin was cut out.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Walk on the Beach Part 3

On May 10th, I set out to Pass Christian to check out the last part of the beach in that area. I did not go out till about 5pm and ended at dark. The area covered was from the Pass Christian Harbor to about the end of the beach. I didn't get to cover the whole beach due to the sun going down.  But what I saw was more then enough for one day.

This section of beach was tar free. I didn't see one sign of tar or the odd brown foam. There was even a lack of the black debris stuff that we found on the other beaches covered. But what I did find was death. This was probably the worst case of death along all the other beaches. 3 different turtles, a blow fish, many rays, a horseshoe crab, was overwhelming. This was a very short section of the beach, and the amount of animals were unbelievable.  Another interesting thing was all the shells. Of course its normal to find shells on the beach, but the amount on this stretch of the beach was odd. In the days before this, we had covered over 10 miles of beach, and we saw very few shells, yet this part of the beach they were piled up everywhere. I'm only pointing this out as it seemed abnormal to me, and Eric and his father, who have both spent a lot of time on this section of beach, agreed with me.   Again no pelicans, not one!

I want to talk about the Sea Turtles for a second. You will notice that the sea turtles are spray painted. IMMS is doing this to mark the ones they have counted. When a sea turtle is found they come out, spray paint it and then leave it there. They are not taking samples from these turtles. I want to say, that in my opinion this is about the worst tracking system I have ever heard. I do not understand how they could be sure that they are getting the correct count by spraying them and leaving them. I also do not understand why they are not taking the remains back to IMMS for proper disposal. But then, nothing IMMS does surprises me these days.

Very large whole fish

There is a turtle, 4 fish, a flounder, and a ray here.

As I walked up on this, I thought it was a ball.

Poor turtle

I have NO idea what this is. Maybe a sea slug?

It was very small. It only caught my eye because of the brightness of the yellow.

Miss the other post in this 5 part series?

Walk on the Beach Part 1
Walk on the Beach Part 2

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Walk On the Beach Part 2

On May 9th, Eric and I hit the beach again. It had been days since our first trip out. This time we covered the beach from Long Beach harbor to Pass Christian Harbor. We knew that the beaches changed from day to day but our goal was to cover all beaches from Waveland to Gulfport. We wanted to see the conditions of all the beaches and see if we could see a difference in any of them. Although we were in Mississippi for 2 weeks, the amount of time were able to go out was limited, so we wanted to make the most of our time. This was a very long walk. The surf was very rough this day.

As we started out it was clear that clean up crews had been out that morning. But it was clear they were not cleaning up dead animals! On this stretch of the beach the tar balls were smaller and there were fewer of them. But there was not a shortage of dead animals. There were tons of fresh washed up fish along the beach. Everything from fish heads to whole fish. We came to the conclusion that some of the fish washing up were fish that had been caught. The fish heads we found had clearly been severed and thrown into the water. We also found catfish that appeared to have been caught filleted and the remains tossed into the water. We found a whole fish with a hook and line in its mouth as well. It is clear that some of these fish are victims of fishing, however it was also clear that most were not. There were lots of dead whole fish, rays, birds, and our first turtle. It was clear the turtle had been there for a long time. We saw lots of Sea birds, but still no pelicans. Where are the pelicans? I have never been to this area and not seen pelicans.

Tar Balls mixed in the sand

Fresh Tar Balls

Tar balls along the beach


Very  large  Fish head

Bag of Tar balls left in the sand

Brown sea foam

This fish had no visible wounds, but appeared to have internal injuries

Large Catfish

We saw about 40 live Rays off the beach

This poor guy had a broken wing. I was said to find out there was no rescue groups for injured gulls.

Small Tar balls down the beach

Normal? We saw 3 in the area.

Dead bird

Someone place a cross on the beach.

Fish with a hook and line in its mouth

RIP Turtle

HUGE fish!

If you missed Part 1 of this series you can find it here.