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. Mich

    'Affect the area'? It's going to *destroy* the area, not for years but for generations, maybe forever. The entire coast area might become unihabitable. Let's not even think about what's going to happen when this oil gets into the rivers and water system. Oily rain, anybody?

    Children born today will laugh at the notion that anybody ever vacationed on the Gulf Coast. To them it will have always been an oil-choked, poisoned dead zone. Tragic.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      You make it sound as if the place has been nuked. Look at all the other oil disaster sites around the world...they recovered. The Gulf Coast will recover...yes, it will take time but it will recover.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • navarrebeach

      It will recover eventually; however, it may not be in time to save the endangered birds and animals that live in the Gulf Islands National Seashore. There are nesting birds that feed their young with fish from the Gulf waters. If the waters are contaminated, the young and the adult birds risk death.

      June 4, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • curt

      when it comes to the question of how much oil is coming out B.P. and the government both say they dont know ,,,well it seems to me that all we have to do is see how much oil the log books say they used to harvest a day ,,and i bet it would be real close to the amount they used to harvest ,,,why is it such a big question to how much !!!!!!@! the government knows how much and so does B.P. ,,,,we lost our decleration of indepence ,,people died to fight british rule here ,,people faught to stop the spread of communism too ,,now our government is giving our country back to the british and giving china a lot of money to keep communism alive and well in china ,,why do we keep these people in office ,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      June 6, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      "Rivers and Water systems" drain INTO the ocean – not the other way around.
      Oil doesn't evaporate – so no "oily rain"
      This is a big mess – but not a Coastal Armageddon!
      Good grief – get a grip already!

      June 6, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Elliott Peet

    I'm both happy and sad that this had to happen to our southern everglades and marshes that hold hundreds of different viable species, devastated from a man-made disaster... hurt sadly that it sounds like a problem to deal with many years down the road. Happy to help prove how oil is a dumb source of energy while we have so many other proven sources that would never put our life in such peril as this. STOP THE DRILLING (especially in Alaska!)

    June 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mary Beth

    Wow. This has just been eating me up. Gulf Breeze is my hometown....and ftr, NO – Pcola Beach is NOT in GB. GB actually is a strip of land (peninsula) that sits between Pcola and Pcola Beach. Jow Moran had it right. But none of that matters now. Bc it's the whole ecosystem and economy of the WHOLE region that is gonna be destroyed now. It breaks my heart and it could have been prevented. THIS is why we need regulation, folks. All you de-regulation republicans who are waiting for corporations to "do the right thing" – Keep waiting. Bush and his cronies deregulated Big Oil so much that this is the consequence. Of course he lives in Texas so why does he care??

    June 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • curt

      bush is big buddies with tony blair ,,he helped give this country back to the brits ,,,why do the brits take our oil out in the first place ?? and sell it back to us for 4 $ a gallon ????????????? bush and cheney are responsible and obama is right there with them cuz he did not try to stop this relationship with the brits ,,,the red coats are comming and this time we gave our country back to them with out a fight ,,this country is no longer a democrocy or a republic for which it stands ,

      June 6, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Debbie

    My prayers to the entire relief area and to everyone who is suffering. My heart breaks every time I turn on the news.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tes Hobbs

    I went to Pensacola Beach earlier today. News organizations from all over the country were present and filming. Blobs of reddish brown goo are all over the beach at the high tide line and floating in the water. The beach was crowded and people were swimming with the goo. Not a single clean-up person on the whole beach for as far as I could see. Talked to a journalist who was out on a boat this morning and who said the giant oozing blobs of smelly stuff is just four miles from the mouth of Pensacola Bay.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Grant

    Here is a non toxic cleaner that should be used to help clean up the aftermath!

    June 4, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • CABNY

      Dude! you can get cancer from that! wash it off!

      June 4, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dick

    If we Ameicans continue to think that we "need" carbon-based fuels cheaply, we will continue to drill/bore/dig in areas that have high risk of situations such as just occurred. Until we wise up, conserve and use alternative energy sources, we can just blame ourselves and not just point fingers at the companies that provide our cheap fuels or blame the government for not having and enforcing regulations.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • rachbell

      Amen. Thank you, Dick, for a direct and intelligent comment. It's obvious, from most comments here, that it's easier to point the finger at everyone else, instead of looking at what we can all do individually to help turn around the pollution of our planet.

      How many of us still use bottled water? How many of us drive to a strip mall and then drive our car to every shop we go to instead of walking? How many of us still drive gas guzzler cars? How many of don't recycle? How many of us still use energy ineffecient light bulbs or appliances? How many of us still garden with chemicals? How many of don't bother to garden, even just for basic vegetables? How many of us still use the dryer instead of hanging out our clothes to dry when possible? And this is just the tip of the iceburg. If all of us just did several little things, we'd eventually realize big results.

      We drive the industry that helps pollute our planet. It's up to us to change.

      June 5, 2010 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Griff

      oh Rach ! you are my hero...so smart, knows it all...Rach, my hero

      June 6, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. God

    Everyone on Earth is guilty. Bad Consumers!

    I will fix all of you soon!

    June 4, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fan of God

      about time you said something....now will you PLEASE send down a lightning bolt or something to the idiot CEO of BP's A$$...and while your at it...PLEASE perform some unseen miracle and stop up that hole...us west coast Floridians are certainly NOT looking forward to what is most definately coming our way....8(

      June 6, 2010 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. cando

    I wonder if while report on this disastor, the reporters and camera personal put down there gear and help pick up the oil at all.
    Or do they just sit back and complain, doing nothing about it themselves.
    I see anderson cooper putting his hand in it but not help cleaning it up.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John Andrews

    Either you can do something about it or you cant. If you can't help remedy the situation then it's best we keep our mouths shut and pray for them to get the well capped. What amazes me is the hypocrisy that permeates this disaster. There have been specials about the "dead zone" created in the Gulf of Mexico from the fertilizer runoff in the midwest. The Chesapeake Bay has been polluted almost beyond repair, but let an oil company have an accident and kill 11 people and everyone wants to know who is going to pay. What did green peace and the sierra club do about the dead zone or Chesapeake bay....nothing, NADA. What a bunch of hypocrites and finger pointers. If all you can do is point fingers your no help at all.. Grow up America. If you think energy is high now, wait till the Green crowd of hypocrites have their way.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben - Santa Cruz

      It sounds like you're saying that since there wasn't an outcry for the "dead zone", there shouldn't be one for the oil spill? Really?

      The error was in not addressing the dead zone. But don't worry. The entire gulf will likely be a dead zone soon.
      People like you that complain about environmentalists are like the man that jumps from a 20 story building. As he passes the second story on his way to demise on the cement below, he waves to the crown pointing out that he's just fine.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Danson

      Here's the difference. The dead zones are created by "Made in the USA' products from Cargill, ADM, Monsanto, Du Pont, and Dow, all US companies. The oil spill is the result of foreign corporation's negligence and lax operating procedures (in case you didn't know, the "B" in BP stands for British). It's unpatriotic to criticize US businesses.

      June 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • kb

      danson, you're saying it's okay for Americans to pollute the waters, but it's only an outrage when it's a foreign corporation? What?

      "It's unpatriotic to criticize US businesses."

      Such a statement encourages only ruin. No, it's unpatriotic to allow your country to be destroyed in such a manner, regardless of the source. I would argue you have an increased amount of responsibility to criticize American businesses who are doing great harm to the environment they live in.

      I weep for my American neighbors and the world we share.

      June 5, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greenie

      Hey moron, who do you think is buying organic food, shopping locally, conserving water and leading the rest of your lazy consumers so a more sane way of living? Yes, it is those "greenies" you scoff at but don't understand. Let me spell it out for you, greenies don't shop at walmart, greenies ride their bikes, greenies read labels, greenies volunteer with the Sierra Club and Green Peace. If you think energy is expensive now, tell me how much are these oil wars we wage costing us? You will be the one crying mercy when Peak Oil crashes and will pray to your diety there is a Greenie around to share their garden with you.

      June 6, 2010 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. Chrissy

    I am coming to the very sad conclusion that my beautiful home will probably suffer a similar plight within a few weeks. Our beaches will be fouled for at least a generation. I am still paying on a boat that I waited a lifetime to get, and finally am living somewhere that I could really approeciate having it and going fishing/sailing each weekend. Alas, I have so few of those days left to enjoy. And when the oil comes, I'll still be paying on a boat that I won't even be able to use any more. -unless I'm helping to rescue wildlife or laying boomline.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chrissy

      Treasure Island, Florida (west coast near Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater)

      June 4, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • jswfl

      Only time will tell. I'm on the water, south of you, between Naples and Fort Myers, and I hope that you, I and all of us on the Gulf Coast not yet getting hit by this get spared. All we can do is hope, be proactive and examine our own way of life. Sadly, I don't think this will change things in the long-run and we will return to status-quo.

      June 5, 2010 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tes Hobbs

    I went to Shoreline Beach, in Gulf Breeze proper earlier today. Found tar balls close to the pier, which means the oil is already entering our bay. Lots of blobs of oil on Pensacola Beach and no clean-up crews anywhere. I came home and started making phones calls. Talked with a local BP representative and asked why no one is cleaning up Pensacola Beach. I was told that maybe I was on the wrong part of the beach. However, I went to numerous spots up and down Pensacola Beach for miles and no sign of clean-up crews anywhere. Lots of media camera crews filming our still beautiful sugar-sand beach.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Daniel

    Boycott Republican and Bluedog Democrat Congressional candidates! That'll fix it for the future. Damn everything conservative. We need a progressive USA.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. biggeorge22

    Let the Inmates do it, let them help to clean up this mess. Our jails are full on men that would love to work off some of their time helping clean-up the environment. I am not talking dangerous felons here, but rather tax evaders, white collar and some minor drug offeders. We have tens of thousands who would work off their time if given the chance.

    Our jails are so over crowded now with able men sitting on their duffs getting 3-Hots & a Cot. Put them to some real useful work. They will feel like they are actually doing something to help. They can earn time off of the ridiculously long sentences that are given out in this country. It will provide all the man power needed to get the job done at a fraction of the cost. It must be a voluntary inmate program of course but see how many people they get. It will be in the tens of thousands...

    We have 5% of the worlds total population and 25% of the worlds inmate population. There's really something wrong with this country. We feed on our own. Out them to work. Let them do something useful and work off some of their time.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • navarrebeach

      They are using inmates in Navarre (or at least people who are working community service). They have been here all day gathering tar balls off the beach.

      June 4, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Will

    This entire situation is just so unfortunate, but you have to admit, the timing is impeccable! it almost too ironic how the well blew just after President Obama announced his hesitant support for off-shore drilling. Whatever the cause, the right-wingers will not have a choice but to support our environmental initiatives. We've got a lot of jobs riding on new wind and solar projects and this just enhances opportunities in those areas. The longer this catastrophy continues, the better the outlook for green jobs.....exactly what the president wanted in the first place. And best of all, our Arab allies in the mideast will once again become the prime vendors of crude. Once this mess is cleaned up, it really will be in the best interest of all.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
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