Posts Tagged ‘tar mats’

The picture of the seabird on the beach at Gulf Shores was taken by me on a warm and cloudless October day in 2012. The surf line is well marked by a swath of broken and unbroken shells, strewn like multicolored gems along the shore. It is a peaceful picture. I can hear the waves crashing and receding, squawks and squeaks of birds in flight or running merrily along the water’s edge, and voices muffled by the sounds of  the sea. What you don’t see in this picture are the guys just down the beach with nets like giant kitty-litter shovels sifting through the sand for  tarballs or the tar encrusted shells. It has been over two years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (what most of us call the BP spill). Snorkel SCAT teams (shoreline cleanup assessment technique) personnel are still working the area beaches (including nearby Pensacola) as they have been since that fateful summer. These teams search for underwater oil and record precise locations using GPS. Information gleaned from this systematic process is used for determining clean-up and treatment options in consideration with the environment. They continue to find thick bands of submerged tar mats while the tourists play in the sun and sand farther up the beach. I was in Gulf Shores the fall of 2010. No one was allowed on the beaches except the members of the spill’s inter-agency Gulf Coast Incident Management Team including USCG, NOAA, Fish & Wildlife, DEQ, ADEM (Alabama Department of Environmental Management) and Polaris. The team I followed started out in Panama City, FL that August. Although some members have been changed out, there are a few who have worked together all along, spending pretty much every day of the week at the beach, in the water, season after season. The point of all this babble about the oil spill? Look at the picture of the bird.  Does it make you think of dudes with bright green gloves and giant nets and shovels scooping tar turds off the beach while children romp in the surf nearby? Teams of wet-suit clad snorkel teams in the water digging a long shovel into the gulf’s bottom in search of oil muck? Gathering shells that will later need to have clots of tar extracted? Nooo and see there is that point. Life is often more than meets the eye. We often see only what we want to see or chose to not look any closer. Some look for the good, others only the bad. There are ALWAYS choices.