Monday, July 5, 2010

Darkness in donax land

Quoth today's headline story in the Galveston Daily News:  "Officials have not confirmed if large oil sheets that washed up on Galveston’s west end last week were connected to the BP spill."

I saw free oil in the surf zone yesterday but I initially assumed it was either something that Hurricane Alex had upchucked, or perhaps something the revellers had dumped in situ (the beach was insanely packed with drunks who were "celebrating" Independence Day by trashing the place).  There's no cell service out there, so I hadn't read the stories (links below) until we returned. 

Furthermore, I saw tar balls for the first time in twenty years, but again, I assumed that they were old ones, dredged up by the recent storm which, by the way, had also buried the place in massive amounts of seaweed.

I wouldn'ta even noticed the tar balls except for the fact that, since the time of Ike, I've been collecting COAL on my west-end wanderings.  Yes, coal.  How it got there I don't know, but I speculate that there's a mass of it somewhere on the bottom, having gone down many decades ago with one of the old steam ships.  When we have storms, it gets tossed back up like every other large inexplicable object. 

And of course coal and tar are indistinguishable at a distance.  Here's a pic of a tar ball I pulled apart (upper) and a fragment of coal.

 By the way, donax is a highly mobile species of clam that lives only in the surf zone.  They came to my mind re: the title of this entry because they were migrating like crazy yesterday, as they will often do around sunset.  If we've got pollution, it doesn't seem to be that bad yet, because they were unusually vigorous.

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