Due to my father’s surprise business mission to do work on the Gulf, my family and I are staying in a penthouse condo (on the 18th floor!) in Gulf Shores.  What a blessing – it’s beautiful here!  Early this morning my mother, seven of my siblings (Rachel was off to a friend’s house) and I took a stroll on the beach.  It was around 7:00 in the morning, and the weather was very pleasant.  The beach has been fairly quiet since we’ve been here (not many people or birds around).

After awhile, Mom pointed out some suspicious looking mocha-colored foam coming in towards the shore that she thought might have come from the oil spill.  My siblings and I began scouring the shore for more evidence. There was a great number of dead shrimp and mollusks, and the water and foam collecting in shells had an iridescent sheen.  Several dead fish of various sizes were present.  A few drenched bird feathers were around too.  Abigail (age 13) provided photographic documentation.  We made some videos too, which will be posted as soon as possible.

Unusual Foam

Suspicious Foam

More Foam Across the Sea

Crustacean Debris

Vertebrae of Dead Animal

Fish Head

Iridescent Bubbles

Oyster Remains?

More Oily Foam

Bird Feather

Dead Little Fish

Splotchy Sand



This was the first time that Beth (age 5) and Ben (age 3) had ever been to the beach.  While exploring, Ben got too close to the tide and slipped in.  He quickly jumped up, spluttering and crying that his basketball jersey was now dirty.  We took his little jersey off so he get dry more quickly, and I decided to use it for carrying specimens.

Benjamin got wet from head to toe!

Benjamin got wet from head to toe!

I used shells to scoop up the oily foam and several clear plastic-looking things that were shaped like oyster shells.  I got a few shrimp bodies as well.  These remains were all scattered evenly across the yellowish tide line as far as we could walk.  We strongly suspected that we had encountered residue from the oil spill, but reportedly it had not yet hit the shores.

Lo and behold, when we got back to the condo the news on television reported that the oil spill had finally reached Gulf Shores.

Check back for updates!  My little siblings have been begging me to take them to the indoor swimming pool.  I’ll shall return…

UPDATE 05/20/10 – Dad’s business trip required him to collect oil samples for microbial bioremediation experiments to help with cleaning up the oil spill.  He took a boat 42 miles out at sea and found most of the oil to be solidifying into tar-like globs that floated just beneath the surface of the ocean.  Here is a photograph (by Abigail) of some of the samples (they smell awful!):

Solidifying oil collected from 42 miles out at sea.

Solidifying oil collected from 42 miles out at sea.

While on the beach, Joseph (15 year old brother) brought me a petrified resin/bark looking object that looked just like one of the tar globs, only it was hard and without odor.  I’m not completely sure if there is any connection, but I do know that most of the oil hardens as it rolls towards the shore in the cold sea water.


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