BP Oil Tar Covers Alabama Beach

BP oil tar on Alabama beach

Uncovering pancake-like tar patties along an oiled stretch of over a mile long near Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, Alabama today December 28, 2010

* After posting the below blog I had a discussion with John Wathen, Tom Hutchings and others regarding the term we should be using for the state of oil pollution found on the beach at Fort Morgan.  The feeling is that “tarballs” or “tar-anything” may be misleading as it often is used by companies like BP in reference to ‘old oil’ that washes on to the beaches so degraded that it no longer is volatile or off-gassing, not the case with the oil found at Fort Morgan.  Instead I will refer from this point on to “weathered oil” when talking about the semi-gooey, soft cat-poo-like oil.  Oil pollution that is continuing to off-gas and chemically challenge the biology of the marine shore environment.


For BP 2010 may be the year it wishes to forget, but for one Alabama beach the New Year 2011 looks a lot the same.  Today we discovered tens of thousands of oily tarballs covering over a mile stretch near Fort Morgan on the Gulf Shores side of Mobile Bay.

oil tarball

Like pancakes with an oily core these " tar paddies" formed dense patches behind the rackline in sections a few feet to several yards long.

This is the worst oiling I have seen east of Louisiana since this past September.  At no time have I seen this “wealth” of tarballs.  Along the tideline they were continuing to wash up.

Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover running between thousands of oily tarballs - densest along and just behind the rackline where the plover feed.

Along the rackline – where wintering shorebirds sift through what the Gulf washes ashore for food the tarballs and patties were the thickest.


Tarballs by the tens of thousands surfacing along the beach near Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, Alabama

heron footprints and tarballs

Great Blue Heron tracks through a minefield of tarballs on the beach near Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores, Alabama

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1 Response to BP Oil Tar Covers Alabama Beach

  1. Pingback: Recent reports - SoWal Beaches Forum

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