While in Florida for the annual Dobson family reunion, we were able to experience the impact of the Deep Horizon oil spill on the Florida pan handle as well as efforts to cleanup/contain the spill. We stayed at Grayton beach which is sandwiched in-between Destin to the west and Panama City Beach to the east. I had been checking the Grayton beach blog for a few weeks prior to our visit so I knew what the beach conditions were and about the local efforts to minimize the impact of the spill. The day before we left, the beaches were all open and clean (according to the site at least).

There was some obvious anxiety in our group what we would see when we finally got down there. This was supposed to be a vacation at the BEACH so if we ended up spending it at the POOL, it would be a bit of a let down.

So what did we see? Nothing for the first couple of days. The water had some algae in it but there was an algae bloom when we were down there last year, so it wasn’t a big deal. The first tarball we saw was found by Julie on a beach in a little town east of Grayton named Seaside a couple of days into our stay. The only other time we them was the last day we were there. We found tarballs on the beach right in front of the houses we were renting.

The Grayton blog seems to report ‘no tar balls’ everyday so I am getting the feeling that they don’t want people to know that there are tar balls showing up there. It wasn’t like the entire gulf was washing up hundreds of these with every wave, but you could easily find them by standing on the shore and watching the waves bring them in.

There were A LOT of cleanup workers at the beach. 100s of people walking the beaches in the area. They had a lot of logistics at work here with getting workers to and from the various white tents setup, bathrooms for the workers, etc. There were a couple of days where it felt like they outnumbered the actual beach-goers. Here are some shots of the cleanup effort to show you the scale of the operation.