Five “tar balls”, each about a half-inch in diameter, were found over a 3.5 mile stretch of shoreline off of Perdido Key in Escambia County.  The state reported these tar balls as a very minor incident and could not confirm that they were related to the oil spill.

However, according to Visit Florida as of Saturday, 05.15.2010 at 11:30 am CDT, there have been “no reported tar balls” on the beaches of Florida.

How can this be?

As a native Floridian, I have ran across naturally occurring tar balls that have washed up on our shore from time to time resulting from the minute amounts of oil/gas that being released from the sea floor which hardens over time.

Additionally, many “untrained eyes” can mistakenly see tar balls when in actuality, they are seeing something completely unrelated.

Case in point, when I went down to Okaloosa Island (in NW Fla) for a beach vigil a week ago. “Locals” were walking down the beach when suddenly somebody pointed out, “Oh no! There’s a tar ball!”. They stood over it and gawked in horror.

As they walked away, I walked over to the “tar ball” and picked it up, I flipped it over to examine it more in depth– only to find out that it was merely a broken off piece of concrete. You can see the “tar ball” for yourself in the pictures below. For redundancy’s sake, this is NOT a tar ball.

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Further, the Coast Guard, BP and MMS at 2:00pm CDT yesterday to state that all reports of tar balls east of the Mississippi River are actually clumps of *algae* (right) that has been mistaken to be tar patches.

However, it is important to note that the reports of the testing of the “tar balls” in Escambia County have not been released as of yet– so it is possible but with my analysis of the currents and wind patterns of the past few weeks, I am garnishing my bets on that tar balls in Escambia County are not “probable” at least not at this point.

Below is a picture of tar balls that have been collected from the Timor Sea spill off the coast of Australia last year.

Tar balls are fragments or lumps of oil weathered to a semi-solid or solid consistency, feel sticky, and are difficult to remove from contaminated surfaces.

If you observe any evidence of oil on Florida’s coastline, report the incident to me and Ill get to the bottom of it, one way or the other and report back.

Please keep in mind that many things can look like tar balls so PLEASE be 110% confident that what you are witnessing is in fact a tar ball before calling it such. Florida’s tourism industry is already being affected enough as it is.

For what it’s worth, my Perdido Key friends are reporting that the waters are beautiful and are cleaner than ever thanks to all the pre-landfall clean up effort! Additionally,  there are no reported oil sheen off of Florida’s coastline and no additional “tar balls” have been found.

The weather at Perdido Key, FL is reported at 84.5 degree Fahrenheit with slight cloud coverage. The only thing that looks to be harming  Florida’s coastline is a chance of showers tomorrow.   Enjoy the  beautiful weather, white sandy beaches and breathtaking emerald coastline of NW Florida. I know I am!

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