June 4th, 2010
03:19 PM ET

Oil confirmed on Pensacola beaches

Tar sits on the beach in Gulf Breeze, Florida, on Friday.

For days, CNN's small army of reporters, photographers and producers has been repositioning toward Florida as oil was expected to come ashore in the Sunshine State.

And on Friday morning, tar balls - hundreds of small bits of hardened oil - littered Pensacola's white beaches. Our iReporters had been saying they had spotted tar balls nearby and in different areas a few days earlier. So we set out to check the beaches.

Tourists were the first to begin cleaning it up. iReporter Marc Sigler said he had been camping in Fort Pickens on Tuesday when he saw tar balls; they spent the next day swimming, picking it up and cleaning the beach. iReport: See Sigler's photos

Further south on the beach on Friday, we saw blobs the size of a Frisbee of reddish-brown oil.

Nobody knew for sure whether the tar was from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Local officials said that so much tar had been piling up that they didn't have the resources to test all the balls and blobs of oil locally, so they would be assuming that if they came in such large amounts now, they were probably from the disaster in the Gulf. Similar tar balls and oil slicks have shown up on beaches along the Gulf since the rig exploded and sank.

iReport: Help us track the oil disaster

Friday afternoon, reporters and residents got the answer they were waiting for: Florida's Division of Emergency Management issued a statement saying, "tar patties and tar balls have been confirmed in widely scattered areas east of Pensacola."

Reconnaissance flights are taking place to determine all of the locations nearby that may be affected. While that goes on, some tourists will keep on cleaning - and worrying.

Tourist Catherine Maloney looked at the blobs of oil with surprise and disgust before taking pictures of them.

"This is going to affect this area for years," she said. "It's already so quiet, it feels like a hurricane came."

soundoff (335 Responses)
  1. Karen

    Californians have never forgotten the oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara which is why we have lobbied to stop drilling off the California coast. There is no such thing as safe drilling! Accidents are exactly that. What happened in the Gulf was NOT an accident. It was a combination of cost cutting, no regulations, no oversight, and greed. I find it interesting that the very States that rejected 'big government' and regulating industry are now demanding the government to 'do something' and to rescue them. Aren't the big oil companies your friends? How could you all sell the soul of your beautiful ecosystems and environments to big oil and blame Obama? Not a supporter of Obama by the way, just wondering how you rationalize your flip flopping? Have any of you figured out that Halliburton and Cheney are bad guys? Anyone remember the shoddy subpar contractor work they did in Iraq that resulted in U.S. soldiers being electrocuted to death while showering? These companies have no soul. It is unbelievable to me that with all the technology around that the U.S. has for the last 20 – 30 years continually LOOSENED REGULATIONS as other countries have continually TIGHTENED their environmental regulations. None of the other developed countries would allow an offshore oil well rig to be built without a relief well built at the same time amongst other preventative measures. I suppose we are closer to Africa with regulations. Big Oil throughout Africa does what it wants and regulates itself. I don't think that's been working out too well either. Reading other comments – didn't Palin blame environmentalists for Deep Horizon? How's that "Drill, baby, drill" chant coming along?
    The whole thing makes me sick to my stomach. The Gulf Coast area is just beautiful. I can't even imagine the beautiful beaches being devastated and the destruction of innocent wildlife.
    Take a note from California: volunteers rallied and worked day and night cleaning birds and the beaches. Then, we regulated the oil companies off our coast. Do the same.

    June 6, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. FlyNavy

    After living down by Perdido Beach and learning to fly in beautiful Destin, I am so sad to hear those gorgeous beaches from my memories will never be the same. I dreamed of moving back one day, but who knows now. It also scares me to see people picking up those tar balls on the beach. They are toxic, and trained people need to start cleaning up those beaches pronto. No need for trash talking, this truly is a tragedy that will be felt by all.

    June 6, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cospiracy Theorist

    I think I've figured this out. The Democrats conspired with BP to douse the Florida panhandle with oil blobs as payback for Gore's loss in Florida in 2000. Just think about it. Foesn't it seem strange that Al and Tipper decided to split while this was going on. She probably disagreed qith this payback strategy and (Lord knows) he doesn't deal well with people who disagree with him. THis feels right.

    June 6, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. greg stensin

    embarrasing for our country to look so powerless and leaderless.

    June 6, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pete

    Has anyone heard any discussion on ice crystals? It was the reason the top hat did not work. Can this be used to help stem the flow?

    June 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. T

    I'm not feeling too bad for the residents of FL. 2/3rds of them wanted more off-shore drilling, they can deal with the consequences. If they want to destroy their $40b/year tourist industry for $0.03/gallon cheaper gas, well that's their decision.

    June 6, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kathy

    Bp should go out of business for this unsafe practice of drilling they do. They have ruined our beautiful beaches, detroyed lives and wildlife. I believe in offshore drilling when it is done responsibility. I thought Bp had the same safety measures inplace other oil companies followed. MY bad. My heart is heavy and wonder if the beches will ever look the same. I know it will be some time before I want to swim in waters tainted in oil. I don't want to come up with cancer later on in life for having vacationed in the gulf in the next few years.

    June 6, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Thompson Trivet

    lets see what happens if this oil reaches the coral reef off the florida keys. What do you think obama's approval rating will look like then....

    June 6, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Madison

    Love some of you guys! Complaining about "big government" and "regulation" but demanding government to prevent and take charge of the business-created mess. Which is it? Can't have your cake and eat it too.

    June 6, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. wiseman72

    Florida´s beaches were once "white" but are now full of brown people after the illegal alien invasion which the US Federal Gov´t has intentionally ignored for about 15 years! This is part of the plan of the Zionist JEWS that control America and want to bring it to it´s knees, along with the white race that created America! Zionism is the enemy of the human race!

    June 6, 2010 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JRZGRL1

    Carol, the "poorer" states may be getting "sympathy" but I don't think whatever "sympathy" they're getting is helping getting anything cleaned up. I live outside of Charleston SC & I am sick about everyone along the gulf – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida & eventually Georgia, us & NC. No one paying attention to the oil disaster is ignoring Pensacola. No one.

    June 6, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. So Cal Jack

    I'm sick to my stomach as to what the oil leak is doing to animals and marine life, but I have no pity whatsoever for the rich ahd filthy rich who are more concerned about their precious "ocean views" than the marine life. May those of that ilk see their property values plummet and then stay there too!! Let us all not forget though that the "B" in "BP" stands for BRITISH!. May what comes around go around sooner or later. Barstards!

    June 7, 2010 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  13. manny

    again... reporters sensationalizing everything by saying 'tarballs wash up on florida beaches'... albeit true of the panhandle... the other 1000+ miles of coastline are pristine still and good god willing will stay that way... hasn't the media figured out yet that their powerful words (and headlines) are very far reaching! your headline has the image of the whole peninsula of florida surrounded by oil... Grow up and report JUST THE FACTS... stop luring readers with half true headlines! Florida should sue you for this as the tourism drops because of it!

    June 7, 2010 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ryan Cabarrao

    BP should not be relying on volunteers to help clean up their mess. I believe BP should be hiring the thousands of unemployed people in the States affected by this disaster. They should be canvassing unemployment offices, posting jobs on career builder and the likes and paying people to clean this up. This will help their image and also the communities where this is happening. They need to be out there getting people who want to work, who want to help. They should not be taking advantage of volunteers, they should be paying the people who are affected by the current economic crisis and paying those whose communities will be ruined by this lack of response and responsibility.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mark

    It is nice to see people pitch in. I hope we in Fla, are not hurt too bad by this.Does anyone know if there are organized efforts for clean up, many unemployed might find an opportunity to help.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
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