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.