We set out at about 2pm and by the time we were done, it was about 7pm. While we walked the tide went out and was coming back in as we finished. We did not find any turtles or dolphins (that was a good thing), but what we did find was enough to make one sick, in many ways.
I will admit, I am no expert on this coast line, or any coast line for that matter. I grew up in Dallas, far from any beaches. Eric, on the other hand, grew up in this area. Although he still may not qualify as an expert, he does know what is and is not normal. Also, I should point out, much of this is just common sense stuff. It does not take rocket science to know what should and should not be on beaches, or whats safe and whats not. Also remember, this area is a high tourist area. Large casinos and tourist type places need business and need people coming to this area to stay in business. These places are telling the world through print and commercials "The Beaches are fine, the water is perfect...Come see us!" They are telling the public the beaches are clean and safe.
So what did we find? Death..lots of dead fish, rays, puffers, a jelly fish, a few dead birds,one a freshly dead sea gull, and (brace yourself) a dead dog! Tar....lots of tar balls and tar mats. We also found people swimming in the water, barefoot prints in the sand, right next to tar. People running, playing, and sunbathing next to dead rotting animals. It was enough to make one want to scream. We now question the sanity of these beach goers and those who claim the beaches are safe. What did we not see? Pelicans. We have not seen a single pelican anywhere since we have been here. Clean up crews. No where on this beaches have we seen a clean up crew cleaning, or evedance that they had been there.
The Tar balls and mats speak for themselves. One could say that the tar in itself is unsafe, and there for people should not be in the water or the area. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality states on its website :
The oil impact statement acknowledges that beaches have been oiled but are now open, cautions beachgoers that tar balls or tar mats may continue to be seen, and advises people that although these materials do not represent a significant human health risk, people should take some common sense precautions if tar balls are present.
The agencies recommend people to:
· Avoid contact with tar balls.
· If you see tar balls in the water, you are advised not to enter.
· Do not handle tar balls.
· If you get tar ball residue on your skin, wash with soap and water.
· If you get tar ball residue on your clothing, launder as usual.
· Do not use harsh detergents, solvents or other chemicals to wash
tar ball residue from skin or clothing: this may promote absorption
through the skin.
The wide spread tar balls and mats makes me wonder why these beaches are open. The tar we saw was everywhere. So, if we could see as much as we did, what was lurking in the water that we couldn't see?
If the Tar was not enough, the unbelievable amount of dead and decomposing animals should make people think, or you would think it would. These animals are left on the beach, rotting. Some have been there for days, even weeks. Why? The States, Counties, and Cities, claim the beaches are safe...I question the safety of a beach that has dead rotting animals on it. To me, it doesn't matter how or why they died. The fact is they are dead and are left there for beach goers to walk on, play next to, or unknowingly lay on, once enough sand covers them up. This is reckless and so unsafe it makes my head spin.
A few pics from the day...
|Although this picture looks bad, this is actually not oil or tar. It is debris, that appears to be small chips of wood.|
|Tar Ball Field. We saw this all along the coast.|
|Tar right off the beach washing up.|
|Tar ball next to Eric's hand. This was an average size.|
|Broken up Tar Ball|
|Tar Mat next to Eric's foot.|
|Dead Sting Ray|
|There was a ton of these skulls littering the beach|
|This sea gull had not been dead long. It was not stiff at all when we found it.|
|Very small dead Jellyfish|
|The last thing I expected to find, a dead dog decomposing on the beach.|
The smell was awful and we could smell it way before we found it.
You can read Part 2 of the series Here.