Division of Spill Prevention and Response


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Beach Survey Update #3
Tar ball beach surveys have been conducted daily since 3/1/05. On 3/1/05, the beach survey team returned to Little South America to remove tarballs that had been observed on earlier beach walks. Approximately 45 tar balls (which had been reported a week prior) were removed from the beach.

Photo 3-1. Fresh tarball, Little South America.

Photo 3-2. Airport Beach

Photo 3-3. Airport Beach, 2/25/2005

Photo 3-4. Little South America, 2/23/2005
On 3/2, beach surveys were conducted at Summer Bay and Front Beach. No new tar balls were observed.
On 3/3, beach surveys were conducted at Little South America, Wide Bay, and Airport Beach. A few tar balls were observed at Little South America, but the beach survey team suspected that most of these were tar balls that had been missed on the 3/1 survey due to low visibility (rain), with the exception of one tar ball that appeared “fresh” (Photo 3-1). One tar ball was observed at Airport Beach. There were no oil observations at Wide Bay.
Attached are several photos that show the beach survey technique. We have selected short beach segments on each of the 6 beaches, and these same segments are surveyed every other day or so. First, the surveying team slowly moves down the beach, zig-zagging, and uses surveyor flags to mark every observed tar ball. Then, they stop at a designated photo location and take a photo of the beach, showing the basic distribution of tar balls (Photo 3-2). This not only informs on the quantity but on the general distribution (tide line). This information will presumably be useful in distinguishing whether tar balls observed on subsequent trips may have been overlooked during the initial survey (as reported for Little South America 3/3) or whether they may be from a new event. After the entire segment has been walked & the photograph taken, the survey team then reverses their course and stops at each flag, takes a waypoint, and photographs the GPS unit and tarball (Photo 3-3). Finally, the tar ball is cleaned off the beach, to the extent practical, and samples are occasionally taken for archive or lab analysis (Photo 3-4).