Tar Balls Found in the Florida Keys

Since the BP oil drilling disaster began, residents and communities from across much of the Gulf coast have reported discovering tar balls washed up onshore. Some of the areas where they have been discovered include Dauphin Island, Alabama, Long Beach, Mississippi and, now the Florida Keys. BP’s drilling disaster is releasing massive quantities of oil into the Gulf of Mexico every day and, partially due to the use of dispersants, much of this oil is lingering below the surface in the water column. The daily projection maps which NOAA releases basically only track the surface slick, which is influenced primarily by the wind. On the other hand, the unknown quantity of crude below the surface is mostly being dispersed by tidal currents and the federal government and BP have released very little data on where this oil is ending up. Today in a briefing hosted by NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, she indicated that there is evidence that some of this oil could soon enter the Gulf Loop current and reach the Florida Keys within five days.Typical Tar Ball, Photo Courtesy of NOAAThe new tar balls discovered in the Keys could be from another of the many oil spills that occur in the Gulf of Mexico, or from natural seepage on the sea floor, but it is also possible that these are a result of BP’s oil drilling disaster. Right now, NOAA is testing the tar balls to discover their origin and hopefully we’ll learn more in the near future. Check out this article to read more.Update on May 19, 2010:The Coast Guard is now reporting that the tar balls found in the Florida Keys are not from the BP oil drilling disaster. Their source is unknown.Raleigh Hoke is GRN’s Mississippi Organizer