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. Rich

    I feel so badly for the people affected. My family regularly visits Destin and the beaches are so pretty.

    Also, could the right wing just give it a rest. Obama is not responsible for this. BP is. End of story.

    The govt doesn't have the means to fix this. The oil companies do and it's their mess. I think you on the right refer to this as personal responsibility.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • thejoker_

      BP and the deregulation of the oil industry.

      June 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • thejoker_

      Didn't you know everything is Obama's fault?

      June 4, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dave

    Spill baby spill

    June 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dan S.

    Why not treat the plume like a hot air balloon? Rather than try and cover it completely (which is next to impossible given the pressure), create the underwater equivalent of an upside down siphon? It does not have to cover the plume entirely, just be securely fastened above it with a wide enough canopy to catch the oil as the force of the pressure directs the flow upwards. Have it attached to a vacuum system, like a huge underwater wet/dry vac. Additional water vacuum systems can be placed near the well head (to capture wayward oil) that will go into multiple ship(s) with water reclamation capabilities.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. biggeorge22



    June 4, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Natasha

      Let me tell you the reason we can't "let" inmates do it – it would leave the door wide open for massive litigation as "cruel and unusual punishment" and one convict would slip and fall in that mess and sue the crap out of the state for making him/her do it in the first place.

      June 5, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. caryn

    Unfortunately, Florida's 60B tourism industry will be hit by this. I'm wondering if Obama was misled by BP. And he's now realizing how serious this disaster really is. Every US Soccer fan should have sign at the World Cup so they can see the mess in the gulf.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Meghan, North Bend, OR

    This is my beautiful hometown, it makes me sick to see our sugar white beaches with tar and oil on them.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pcoilabeach

    We were at Johnson Beach in Perdido today, which is just on the other side of the pass from Ft. Pickens, and we didn't see any oil or tar balls, thankfully. We did, however, smell it very strongly. It was like laying out at a gas station. It's definitely on it's way... so sad.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bailoutsos

    Bottle it and sell to the tourists, if any show up.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • navarrebeach

      Why don't you come to help us clean up instead of providing ignorant criticism? Many tourists are here helping clean up the beaches. We are grateful for any help...

      June 4, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • marianne

      I am so sorry you have almost no empathy for the Gulf Coast.
      Someday a person from our region will help you.

      June 4, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. OhhhK

    I was born and raised in Florida and proud to call myself a Breezer. Brought my family down for a visit and am happy that we missed the oil hitting the beach. My kids saw the beautiful beach as I did when I was a kid. I am afraid that it will be a long time before I will be able to take them there again. I will pray for G.B. the beach and all who live on the coast. Proud 85' Breezer

    June 4, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bailoutsos

    Don't worry. "What they found, and they've found in other places in the world, is that nature does recover.–Nicolas Pilcher, IUCN" - cnn article

    June 4, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Grafixer

    Was a free class. Was taught in several cities up and down the West Coast of Florida and in the Panhandle over the last few weeks. Was basically a "beach safety" course that didn't even deal with cleanup. Was a joke. I wrote to several stations, and my friend was interviewed on PBS about it. But, nothing was ever published... just his radio interview.

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

    Get real everyone. We are all guilty. WE are the consumers who are using the oil. Everyone of you is driving a car right?
    You can't complain and grieve about this situation and then subscribe to using the exact thing you are complaining about. This is called Hypocrisy at it's best. Is everyone here that is so opposed to oil drilling willing to sacrifice and change for the good of humanity. I think not!!! If you are not part of the solution you are then part of the problem!!!!!!!

    June 4, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve


      WRONG!!!!!! Drilling on LAND is safe! Drilling offshore only servs the financial interests of Deepwater Horizon, BP and of course the G.O.P. (whom they bought and paid for !!!!!!!)

      Get real everyone. We are all guilty. WE are the consumers who are using the oil. Everyone of you is driving a car right?

      June 4, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • BeHere

      It's time to wean ourselves off oil. It will be slow, but slow is better than nothing.

      June 4, 2010 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |

      Land, sea, air..... It doesn't matter the bottom line is we have to drastically modify our behaviour and our lifestyles otherwise we are essential doomed!!!! This WORLD CANNOT SUSTAIN mans constant abuse for the sake of our convenience and luxeries. We have, as a society to CHANGE. It takes sacrifice and unfortunately man is too self absorbed and selfish to really understand and adhere to this. Become part of the solution.....I am trying.

      June 5, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Miami Mike

    This has made me pause and think about how the oil leak damage compares to Sept 11, 2001. Time will show that the oil leak is like a nuclear attack to the ocean....Look at the wildlife both dead and near dead covered in oil....Remember the saying, "wake up and smell the coffee"? Well now we wake up and smell the oil.....At some point I hope we get the plot and have a massive shift in life.....Our thrist for oil has attacked us and we must learn....!

    June 4, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bob

    1. As we sit in our gas-sucking SUV's with the a/c on full-blast, blaming BP or the President for this ... take a time-out and have a look in the mirror. It's our DEMAND for unlimited, low-cost energy that funded all those oil wells out there.
    2. Sure, more could and SHOULD have been done to make sure this didn't happen, but I'm pretty sure BP didn't want this any more than the rest of us. No machine or human being is infallable ... except maybe all you self-annointed experts and armchair quarterbacks.
    3. The Blame Game, and Attorney General will do no good whatsoever in helping this mess ... just make it dumber than it already is. Lawyers ... BUTT OUT!
    4. Probably the best we can do now is take the family on a Gulf Beach vacation, bring some plastic bags and get out there to pick-up some of those stinking tar-balls!

    June 4, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Danson

      Actually, don't do #4. You'll probably burn a lot of fossil fuels to get to the Gulf and then when you get there you'll be exposing yourself and your family to horribly toxic chemicals. Do a Google search on the Exxon Valdez cleanup. Some of the workers are still suffering from their exposure.

      June 4, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Miami Mike

    There is a lot of pressure coming out of the well. Keep in mind it is escaping into very high water pressure at over 5000 feet. With that kind of well head pressure it would take a lot to stop the flow. I know this is a wild idea, but an underwater nuclear detonation might do the trick. Go dig up some of Edward Teller’s writings about the use of nuclear detonations to do excavation and other good things. A good sized underwater nuclear detonation could get enough ground to collapse back onto the well head that it would cover it up and stop the flow. By the way, this is completely doable, but requires the current crew of politicians in Washington to go way out on a limb. The solution might be all about an underwater nuclear detonation!

    June 4, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Danson

      Or you crack the bedrock in so many places above the oil reservoir that instead of leaking just from the well's bore hole, the oil will seep into the ocean from the multiple fissures the explosion created.

      June 4, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
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