PHOTO UPDATE FROM HORN ISLAND: Too Many Dead Horseshoe Crabs to Count; Remnant Oil Both on the Beach Surface and Buried as Deep as 4 Feet


ON THE GROUND WITH NEW ORLEANS-BASED PHOTOGRAPHER JERRY MORAN: All images were taken in the area of Latitude 30,14.9815N; Longitude 88,42.3607W.

Late last week (Feb. 17), I made a return trip to Horn Island, Miss., with Jim Stiles and Strongbear of Boston Chemical Data to conduct sampling over a large portion of the barrier island. As was the case on past visits to Horn, the beach (surface and subsurface) was littered with tar balls both large and small.

While on the island, I saw more dead horseshoe crabs (not to mention numerous fish) on the beach than I’ve seen anywhere before on my many trips to Horn Island as well as my travels along the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama coast over the last 10 months. There were far too many dead crabs to count.

Composite surface and subsurface tar ball samples, and sand and oil samples were taken at approximately 10 locations stretching approximately 300 yards along the beach, both near the shoreline and farther inland. All samples will be sent to our lab for testing.

With the naked eye, it can be difficult to see the extent of the remnant oil – all of the tar balls and layers of buried oil – during daylight hours. However, a much different picture is seen at night with the assistance of UV lighting which lends a bright yellow color to all tar balls, oil and chemicals like Corexit (dispersant). As you can see in these images, it’s not just the larger tar balls that are still prevalent on the island (and the Gulf Coast in general), but the small granular pieces covering the surface are also visible as far as 4 feet below the surface. It was alarming to see this type of widespread contamination still apparent more than 9 months after the spill.

These UV photos clearly show that just because you can’t see the oil with the naked eye, certainly doesn’t mean it’s not there.

I also took a series of long exposure shots at night under the UV light at in the area of Latitude 30,14.9841N; Longitude 88,42.3498W, or within 20-30 feet, to create the panoramic view. All of the yellow specks and chunks are tar balls and BP oil spill-related substances which are still all over beaches up and down the Gulf Coast.

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1 comment

  • We are going into spring, the season of rebirth, but i fear it is going to be the season of death and deformity in the gulf this uear and for many years to come.

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

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