What are Tar Balls and Why are They Washing Up on Texas Beaches?
If you happen to make a trip to the Texas coast anytime soon and you see a black blob of gooey stuff, don't panic - it's just tar balls, and apparently they happen naturally.
My first thought was "Texas Tar Balls Invade the Texas Coast," similar to the 1958 Steve McQueen classic, "The Blob". It Eats You Alive!
Well, it's not quite that drastic, but the way it's been going lately, it wouldn't surprise me.
The tar balls are showing up along the Texas coast from from Bolivar to Matagorda. Galveston coastal resources manager Brandon Hill tells KPRC 2 via email that the tar balls are a result of recent storms and they happen naturally.
“Weathered tar is the term used to describe the oil or tar that seeps from the Gulf due to natural or anthropogenic forces and then floats in the Gulf currents until eventually sinking to the Gulf floor or making landfall. The material becomes sunbaked and encrusted in branching bryozoans and other sea life during this time. Per standard procedure, the city has reported the landings to the Texas General Land Offices Oil Spill Response Team and is waiting to hear back from the field office on the results of any samples that have been taken.”
Hill said recent storms in the Yucatan may be why Texas beaches are seeing the tar balls washing up on shore, but says that it's not at a level to warrant a response from Texas General Land Offices Oil Spill Response Team.
Hill says, “We do want to be clear, this is a very light occurrence being closely monitored and is within what would be considered the natural occurrence levels for this sort of material. It isn’t an ‘event’ that is ‘impacting’ one area in particular. It’s more like a natural phenomenon inherent in the Gulf that is being observed in populated beaches, but is occurring over a wide area right now.”
There are lots of weather events happening in the gulf right now with storms brewing, so these tar balls could become more frequent. If you've ever seen the 1958 version of The Blob or even the 1988 remake, you probably already know to just leave it alone.... and it'll leave you alone...or will it?