PORT ARANSAS – They’re a recurring problem on Coastal Bend beaches, tar balls. Lately sticky spots have been popping up along the shore from Port Aransas to Padre Island.
Marissa ford took her kids to Padre Island earlier this week.
“The boys were playing in the water and they came out and had these black spots all over them,” said Ford.
The black spots were tar, and her children were covered in it. The sticky substance created a headache to clean.
“It took a good 20-30 minutes just to get some of it off in the places where it was real sticky and real thick,’ said Ford.
Clumps of tar can also be found on Port Aransas beaches, where officials say beach tar balls are something they’ve dealt with for years.
“It’s not that much of a nuisance normally,” said Bujan. “If it’s a sizeable seepage, then of course it is a nuisance, but we haven’t had one of those in some time.”
But what causes the deposits?
The head of the Texas A&M Corpus Christi’s Harte Research Institute says there are three main causes: ships in the gulf clearing their ballast, natural seepage from underground oil wells, and oil from the 1979 Ixtoc oil spill, which covered Coastal Bend beaches.
“That oil got buried and it does stay there,” said Dr. Larry McKinney. “If you get storms or some kind of activity it does kick up those tar balls from time to time.”
According to McKinney, historical data also suggests late summer is prime time for tar balls to show up.
“This time of year in 1917, 2009, 2010 we had these kind of reports,” said McKinney. “I don’t want to say it’s a seasonal deal, but it almost seems that way.”
If you happen to get tar on your skin, Dr. McKinney says there a lot of options to remove it, but the best it baby oil.