Out of curiosity, James and Cathy Adams drove 380 miles from Pontotoc to see the oil coming ashore in Harrison County.
At the water’s edge behind Snapper’s Seafood Restaurant, Cathy Adams peeled a pancake of oily material from the beach and held it in her hands. It was like soft caramel, she said.
“This is the first tar balls we’ve seen,” she said.
The Adamses are saddened to find the deposits along what should be clean, white sand.
“It’s just ruined,” she said. “This is one of the best vacation places Mississippi has.”
Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Team workers scoured the beaches in Harrison County, scooping more than a ton of contaminated sand mixed with tar patties, mats and balls into clear-plastic garbage bags.
Tar balls are weathered oil; patties are just like balls, but newer and with a more liquid consistency. Tar mats can be a combination of the two mixed with debris such as sediment or plant matter.
The state departments of Marine Resources, Environmental Quality and Health extended the beach advisory in Harrison County from the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor east to Azalea Avenue in Biloxi.
According to a jointly issued news release, the beach in this area had significant amounts of tar mats and tar patties. The heaviest concentrations were between White Avenue in Biloxi and Cowan Road in Gulfport.