Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Inside Look: Oil on the Beaches of AL

The beach wasn't too scary from the oil, but I did document thoroughly. Prior to us leaving for our trip we heard all sorts of rumors about the beach:

The beaches are closed--- No one can step foot on the beach--- Bathing suits are getting ruined from swimming in the ocean--- It smells terrible--- The beach looks awful--- If you get in the ocean you have to bathe in GoJo-- (Obviously some rumors were more ridiculous than others).

The list goes on and on. I was not to be defeated by BP's negligence. I felt like I need to support my state's lovely coast, as many people have opted not to do so.

I did make sure to book a condo with a nice pool in case the beaches were inaccessible. The first day we arrived the weather was terrible. We got some rain from the tropical depression that came through last week so we didn't venture on the the beach that day.

We played cards instead...

...Can you guess by looking at the cards what the family business might be?

As we were playing cards on the balcony, the weather began to clear up as the afternoon approached sunset. Just as it had gotten dark we saw a caravan of tractors heading down the beach.

Being the investigative journalist that I am... I yelled at Deidra, "COME ON... WE NEED TO INTERVIEW THESE PEOPLE." Being the friend that Deidra is... she lead the way... in full sprint.

We marched right out on the beach and stopped these two people:

I told them I wrote for a blog and I was interested in knowing exactly what this process was all about. They were scared at first and didn't know whether they should answer my questions, so I told them that my mom and a few friends are the only people who read my blog...

Turns out, these two people drive ahead of the caravan of tractors in search of sea turtle eggs. Once they find a nest, they mark it and later on all the sea turtle eggs will be moved to South Florida so that when they hatch they will be able to make their way in the ocean with out the harmful effects of the oil. (I was super stoked to hear that the sea turtles were being looked after).

This machine is used to sift the sand. It pulls up the sand and sifts the oil patties from the sand.

Once this machine is full they dump the oil patties into the front-end loaders. They go up and back down the beach every night in attempt to keep the beaches accessible to tourist.

The next day we ventured out on the beach. There wasn't a terrible odor, but our beaches are littered with what the media has termed "tar balls." We called them "oil patties" because the aren't a hard ball of tar. They are somewhat hard on the outside but if stepped on crude oil will end up on your feet.

You sort of have to navigate your way past the oil patties, but once you do it's fine. The ocean was wasn't too bad. I didn't swim in it, but Deidra did and her bathing suit wasn't ruined nor did she have to bathe in GoJo that night. She did say that the bottom of the ocean floor is also littered with "tar patties."

After the bad weather on the first day, water from the high tides had pooled along the beach in one area. This isn't unusual, but the color of it was...

After the night crew came through this area of the beach was cleaned up the next morning.

BP has workers in the area and their presence is felt. From the caravan at night, to the crew working the beach during the day, to the huge set up of equipment at the state park. It's just such a tragedy that they even have to be there.

Don't let the oil stop you from taking your annual trip to the beach. It's really sad how the it has effected tourism. The Fourth of July should be one of the busiest weekends of the summer, but not this year. We rarely had to wait at a restaurant, the beaches were sparsely populated, and the bars were not packed to the brim.

I can only imagine what type of economic impact this oil spill has had on the towns we love along the coast. If nothing else now is the time to plan a beach trip. Rates for condos are discounted, crowds are at a minimum, and traffic was a breeze.

All photos were taken on the beach in Orange Beach, AL

1 comment:

d.a.r. said...

I'm really glad you posted this and to see first hand what is really going on down there--both with the amount of oil on the beaches and the presence of BP. I'm glad you got to enjoy your vacation!

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