5:30 PM

July 4, 2010

Pensacola Pass


In the continuing effort to document the condition of the Pensacola Pass after the blowout of the Macondo #1 well, residents of Robledal again returned to the tip of Santa Rosa Island to record the beach condition in photos and to make a few observations.  You can see photos from the June 25th trip here.


The Pass is our bellwether here in Robledal.  So long as oil doesn’t get into Pensacola Bay we are “safe” here in East Bay.  Here is the latest status.



The barge noted last week was still in place with oil booms hanging from it.




The booms ran out into the bay but were apparently doubled back on themselves allowing

access to the harbor since the tide was in ebb and running out of the bay.  We would guess that the booms are stretched back across the bay when the tide begins to turn since that could carry oil from the Gulf into the bay.




With the east wind at a fairly steady 20 knots the wavelets were splashing over the booms.  If there had been any oil on the surface it seems likely that it would have been swept over and forced under the booms.




There was very little evidence of oil coming ashore on the bay side of the island.

Once we rounded the point ahead we saw no more people.




As we rounded the tip of the island, however, we noted numerous tarballs and oil coatings on flotsam.




There were now tarballs where, last week, there had been none.




Tarballs were everywhere.




Here you can see an oily blob on a piling and an unusual block of material we were unable to identify.




The tarballs were well inland from the beach.

There were also thousands of coquina shells mixed in with the tarballs.




Empty coquina shells.  We don’t know if the tiny mollusks were killed by the oil.

It is normal to see empty shells on the beach but we didn’t see any live coquinas

in the wash of the waves as is normal.




Another shot of the tarballs even farther inland.  The sand carried by the strong breeze that

day was rapidly covering the tar.




We finally reached the “Lone Palm” and turned inland.




The sand remained clean several hundred feet back from the water.


We saw no cleanup crews anywhere near the tip of the island that afternoon.  Perhaps they are still working at night to avoid the heat.  We didn’t see any fish in close to the shore this week like we did last week nor any washed up alewives which were washing up by the thousands earlier.  They had been replaced by the coquinas.  There were seagulls and a lone sandpiper working the shoreline.  All seemed in good health.


So far we seem to have avoided our worst fears but we suspect those tarballs, once they are covered by blowing sand and out of view of the cleanup crews, will be washing our of the beach sand for some time to come.