On a day where there should be too many people on the beach to be comfortable, it is empty. Only a few have made the decision to brave the tar balls and the possibly, but maybe not really, the government can't say one way or the other, contaminated water. At the place above, called Casino Beach by the locals, you can walk on the sand up to a point without having to tiptoe through the tar. Perhaps some of the people tracked a few bits of oil back through spots that haven't seen enough tide to be contaminated by the oil still gushing from the site of the Deepwater Horizon accident. There are signs warning against spreading the tar around. Signs are only so effective.
Like the one at the fishing pier that says in bold, all caps lettering NO SHARK FISHING. If you hook a shark, cut it loose. The man with a five foot black tip shark on his hook clearly flunked reading in school. He received a hefty fine.
Further east down Santa Rosa Island, I wished for more signs, maybe even photos of how the sand once appeared. A couple sat on the beach but had no idea that surrounding them were fingernail sized blobs of tar. We repeated our words and even picked up a few just to show them that we were serious.
At that same parking area, not too far from a swanky resort, we wondered at the rake like paths littered with those icky black dots that stick and stay stuck.
My first impression was that someone groomed the beach for the 4th of July visitors (all 100 of them, when it is normally thousands) without checking for tar before doing so. My friend and I searched for someone involved in the clean up to ask if they knew that someone was spreading the tar way beyond the current tide line.
We found a man, obviously a superintendent, who introduced himself, gave us some of his history, and comfortably answered our questions. That raked stuff? That's after they've cleaned. That's the top layer of what is ten layers deep. "We've cleaned mats as big as this here jeep," he offered. I believed most of what he said. He had the look of a battle-weary veteran who doesn't need to embellish his stories.
Yet, based on what I learned about another source of information, I couldn't help but be skeptical. What person hasn't inflated their story to seem more important? I've always read or heard a story with a big dose of skepticism, and I have to keep doing that, particularly in regards to this oil. I wish more people would employ that. Heck, I should have been more careful about believing at least one person. So, live and learn, and don't tell me you are serious. It's the one statement that will make me think you aren't.