PICTURES: Tarballs Make Landfall in Panama City Beach Over Weekend

Post image for PICTURES: Tarballs Make Landfall in Panama City Beach Over Weekend
by June 21, 2010 • 56 comments

As the oil plume moved more to the east late last week, we began to see some landfall of tarballs Friday and over the weekend.  Saturday morning, reports of tarballs and an oiled bird were made in Carillon Beach on the west end of Panama City Beach.  Today, there are a  slew of them scattered on the west end of Panama City Beach.  The only way I could describe it will make it sound like there is oil everywhere, which isn’t true.  It’s best for me to show you pictures and describe what I’m seeing.  Here we go:

All the little black spots are tarballs.  Most of what I saw were smaller than a dime and scattered just like this.  It almost looks like someone just slung a paint brush.


Crews were onsite cleaning up already.  They were walking up the beach with gloves and a plastic bag.


This is June grass.  Many have reported this as being tarballs.  This is not oil-related, but a natural occurrence for Panama City Beach every year.


In this image, you can see how scattered they are.  There are tons of them in this one picture, and probably hundreds up and down the beach in this area, but they are very scattered, small and in thin concentrations.  They were only on the shoreline.  They are very consistent in texture and quite solid.  I was able to pick one up and it stayed in tact.  It was cloudy, but in the sun they become more liquefied.


This was amongst the larger of the tarballs I found.  This is a standard Javelin pen, very common for promotional use.  There have been larger reported, but this was the biggest I saw.


You can see how scattered they are with the workers in frame.  Looking to the right, there are no tarballs.  They are only as far as the water is washing them.


Here are all the pictures we took.

If you want live information, we’re at the beach every day.

Each week we are shooting videos of the beach showing the current conditions of the water.  Here are the places you can find video of the beach.  (NOTE: Go to our Facebook page and click the “Like” button to be notified of any updates as they come available.

Here are some great resource links.

Here are some additional webcam feeds that our friends at Tripsmarter have been kind enough to allow us to link to.

Print Story

Related Stories

Additional Oil Spill Stories

More Ways to Connect with Us

Leave a Comment




1 Julie June 21, 2010 at 8:01 pm

We are in Panama City Beach right now and have seen the people patrolling to survey the beach. We haven’t seen any tar balls that they are reporting. I hope we don’t. It has been absolutely beautiful even with the oil spill. It sux so bad to put it bluntly. I am just so glad we are fortunate to see it first hand and the real bother is that my daughter and I picked up beer cans and empty water bottles and other plastic items that people just discarded as if we did not already have enough to worry about! So,,,,just don’t worry about the oil spill, but worry about those who don’t know how to clean up after themselves! It was a mess on the beach and it wasn’t oil! That ought to be the concern…that people don’t know that our earth is precious and we have enough going on without trashing it with litter!!


2 Robert Stevens June 21, 2010 at 9:04 pm

excellent post Julie!


3 Keri June 22, 2010 at 10:38 am

I agree 100%


4 cissy and kenny June 23, 2010 at 6:12 am



5 Julie June 24, 2010 at 12:06 pm

Yes, Robert, I agree. That was an excellent post. I’m like Julie #1 I don’t agree with the littering and lack of respect some people have. Have a good vacation Julie and thanks for the post. I’m hoping it will still be nice when I get there in 4 weeks.


6 Jim June 22, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I agree Julie. The earth is precious. So is the seawater. Did you ever notice how people sit on the beach all day, drinking water, soft drinks or beer and then every so often, they get hot and have to go cool off from the waste down? The Gulf is not a septic tank.


7 Jennifer June 21, 2010 at 9:14 pm

I agree!!!!!!!!!!!! We are heading down this week and we have told our daughter that everytime we see trash on the beach we should pick it up and throw it away. Our earth is very precious and we SHOULD take care of it!!!!


8 Bill June 21, 2010 at 10:03 pm

Our friends in PCB are telling us the oil made it into the bay and park today. I don’t understand why they didn’t put the booms up. I have been told the booms are up near St. Joe already. Sounds like a lot we have been told about being ready is just PR.


9 Rebecca June 22, 2010 at 8:02 am

We just returned home to TN from PCB on Saturday, June 19th. We were out in the bay on the 15th and 16th, and they had the booms at the ready near Shell Island and the “kiddie pool” area, so I wonder why they did not deploy them in time. With all of the boats that go out each day, you would think that someone would have noticed all of the tar balls heading their way. It is a very sad situation. I am glad we got to enjoy the beaches before it arrived.


10 Tracy June 22, 2010 at 8:37 am

It has been said that the tar balls have to gravity of water. Thus they can travel under the water not just on the surface. The booms, I believe, will be put in place to keep the oil on the surface from washing into the pass. Im no expert but that is my take on this.


11 Jim June 22, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Booms only protect us from surface oil. They only extend a foot or so below the surface. Tar balls have the same density as the sea water, so float freely below the surface. There is no protection from this, but tar is pretty much harmless. I know, I used to chew it as a kid.

Seriously though, if we only have tar balls, we are extremely lucky. As the lady above said, there is much worse found on the beaches daily.


12 Gail Williams June 22, 2010 at 6:54 am

Your subtitle should read: ‘pcb is run daily’ NOT ‘pcb is ran daily.’ Guess your most talented designers and marketers need a grammar checker.


13 Karen June 22, 2010 at 7:14 am

Gail, is this the best comment you could come up with? Seriously? With everything going on regarding the environment, human life, wildlife, gulf beaches, etc., you have time to think of grammar and belittle a great website. Really, I bet you could use your time more wisely! Give it a try! 🙂


14 hal June 22, 2010 at 7:45 am

i totally agree with karen on this one…..


15 Jason Koertge June 22, 2010 at 7:54 am

Actually, Gail is right. We fixed it. =)


16 Keri June 22, 2010 at 10:44 am

Who cares about the grammer —– Great website @@@!!!!

17 Beeman June 22, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Really! That’s what you’re gonna post?


18 Kevin June 22, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Stop being so ANAL. That’s what’s wrong with this world. People like you worried about proper grammar when you could be helping in so many other ways. PCB daily you do a great job. Thanks for the updates. I probably missed a comma some where please let me know if you can and I’ll add it.


19 Isaac Eiland-Hall June 22, 2010 at 7:18 am

“Today, there area slew of them scattered on the west end of Panama City Beach.”

Near the top of the article. I believe you mean “there are a slew…” 🙂

Thanks for keeping us informed.

Also, you might want to check out INVEST 93 – a tropical wave that has the potential to strengthen into a hurricane and come our way (though it’s WAY WAY WAY too early to make that prediction) – I gathered some info on it here: (Disclaimer: I make no money from my blog – no ads – and I’m not planning to; it’s just a good way to collect information to share easily)


20 beach guy June 22, 2010 at 7:47 am

Well, if thos model are correct and bring it into the northern area of the gulf we are all screwed, Id say it will be the last nail in the coffin for the summer of oil this year. It will spread all that oil all over the coast and there wont be a thing anyone can do about it. Just my opinion.


21 Sharon June 22, 2010 at 8:20 am

Once again, thanks for keeping those of us who can’t be down there daily up to date! And, I agree with some of the comments above. Every time I come to the beach I have a plastic bag to pick up the garbage some people seem to think disappear when they walk off the beaches. Now…let’s start a debate about the folks who think they can leave their cigarette butts in the sand. They NEVER break down! They just sit there in the sand and look disgusting. Please drop them in a cola or beer can and take them to the trash when you leave the beach. I don’t want to be sitting in a pile of cigarette butts in 20 years. And, I’m sure the smokers really don’t want to sit in them either.


22 James D. June 23, 2010 at 12:10 am

Good point Sharon.
Let’s also not forget about the negative environmental impact of having dogs on the beach! Last week, a “beaches advisory” was issued by the Bay County Health Dept. for the area around the Panama City Beach Pier. Guess what turned-up?? Not oil. . .but “enteric bacteria that normally inhabit the intestinal tracts of humans and animals — and may cause human disease, infections or rashes.” If people TRULY care about things that negatively impact our beaches, then dogs should be on the same list with items like: oil, beer cans, soda bottles, etc. etc..


23 Joy June 22, 2010 at 8:55 am

Why make a big deal out of small oil spots when people seem to have no problem with smelly over stuffed garbage cans and garbage , beer cans and crap left by people on our sand and dunes.


24 Chuck Kramer June 22, 2010 at 8:58 am

Great Commentary by ALL! – Tar balls & Cig Butts certainly a blight on our beautiful terra firma. But, Yea Enviro Soldiers – Who’s to BLAME?? When you point a finger at someone – THREE ARE POINTING BACK TO YOU! BP wouldn’t be out there if YOU didn’t have your BIG SUV/GAS GUZZLER Vehicle. C-Butts wouldn’t be out there if YOU didn’t have that addition/or some other. Maybe you can put some blame on YOUR GOVERNMENT (Elected OFFICIALs) for NOT Strictly “Regulating” those industries that capitalize on YOUR ADDICTIONS – WHADAYA THINK????? Soooo – QUIT THE Dang GRIP’IN & GET BUSY – PARK YOUR SUV – AND VOTE “OUT” ANY ‘Bought For’ ‘INCUMBANT’ ‘CAREER’ POLITICIAN (at any level of government) – This is mostly what they’ve done for our society! It’s time for NEW Government, “….for the People….”


25 Beeman June 22, 2010 at 2:57 pm

That’s what we need someone to make our decisions for us!


26 beach guy June 22, 2010 at 10:14 am

Saw my 1st tar ball this morning, lots of trash washed up last night, and alot of the debris has oil on it. This is at the area around beach access #51, someone must have already reported it, because there was a van of guys heading to the beach with gloves and bags. Waves are bigger today and strong push from the south with strong south winds, so anything out south of us is going to be coming in.


27 Gail A. June 22, 2010 at 11:14 am

Even though the tar balls are coming, we are still vacationing on PCB this summer! Sitting on the balcony and watching the beautiful Gulf of Mexico is so calming and wonderful. There are so many great places to visit on the beach and we love going back to all our favorite restaurants. Pier Park is so much fun. (I do believe that I need to visit Margaretville and the Haufbrau House!)
Everyone come down and support Panama City Beach! It is still beautiful and there are a lot of attractions to keep the family busy. Enjoy!


28 Charles H. June 22, 2010 at 12:04 pm

I love PCB have spent a couple of winters there and will again if the oil smell is not too strong. There is plenty to do in the area. I do love my sailing but i guess that will be out, just maybe the oil will not get too bad.
We all need to continue to support BP so they will have money to take care of all they obligations.


29 Nicole June 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Thanks for the continuous updates. I will be traveling to the area next week and I have been visiting this site just about everyday. I cannot wait to see the area.
One quick comment about the crews extracting the tiny tar balls. Looks to me like they should be using a kitty litter scooper, might make the process a bit easier. However I do understand that it is easier to have a comment from the outside looking in.


30 Jim June 22, 2010 at 6:10 pm

As the Horizon Oil Spill, ‘Cloud of Death’, looms on the horizon, many sea animals, fish and other wild life will suffer the consequenses. Also, many retirees, long time residents and others’ hopes and dreams will die with this castastrophie. As most of you know, all of our U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives have received generous incentives from lobbyists from the oil industry. Remember this when election time nears this year. No Incumbents.


31 rob N June 22, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Get your facts strait. The sargasm you showed in the pic is NOT june grass. June grass is green algae…. neither will hurt you. and the sargasm makes cool hiding places for small crabs and fish and shrimp.


32 WW June 23, 2010 at 1:24 am

Why do I read and hear reports about ” the oil is at Panama City Beach” , “tarballs reported everywhere”…….then I call my 40 year old son, who is vacationing in my condo on the west end of PCB and ask him for a beach report.

He states he and his wife & 2 daughters have been on the beach all day for the past three days and have not seen the first tarball!!! He said he saw workers walking up and down the beach and when he questioned them, they said they were looking for oil & tarballs, but had not seen any……………..what ‘s up with all the negative news reporting of TV???

I even hear that the beaches at Pensocola are now clean & clear……I think this whole thing has been blown out of proportion just because Louisianna got hammered with oil, and myself & other condo owners are suffering financial setbacks because of less renters for the condos, and having to offer big discounts to fight for the few vacationers. I hope BP doesn’t run out of money before the end of summer so we can try to file claims with them.


33 Ken Agnew June 23, 2010 at 7:58 am

Jim i beg your pardon but all marine life pee and the ocean does handle cesspool type liquid. My bladder holds about a quart of beer so i think the vast ocean can handle it along with the dreaded millons of gallon oil spill.See you next month Jim i will be up tp my waist in seawater drinking a beer buddy.


34 Baxter June 23, 2010 at 8:11 am

THANK YOU WW! We too, have rental property in PCB and I talk to all my guests – they have not seen OR smelled the first sign of oil either. We also many friends who live down there who we talk to on a daily basis and they are telling us the same thing! Don’t get me wrong, nobody is saying that what is happening is not a terrible environmental disaster, and no one knows at this point what the total impact will be to PCB, but there is no other forcast right now for PCB other than tar balls and tar balls although not desirable, are NOT the end of the world! Tar balls wash up on many beaches when there’s not an oil spill (in fact, they are a regular occurance on many beaches). I know many people who have a bigger problem with the seaweed!


35 Muffincake June 23, 2010 at 8:45 am

I had plans to go stay for the first time in Florida for my honeymoon August 7th!!! F#@% BP!


36 Blue Sun Properties June 23, 2010 at 8:58 am

I have asked a question over at our facebook page and I will ask it here as well;
Should condo owners discount their rentals by 40% or
more just so vacationers can come to Florida and “Stimulate The
Economy”? I’m curious to hear your answers, …but …before you answer, remember condo owners are business owners being affected by the crisis as well…


37 Muffincake June 23, 2010 at 9:04 am

Reduce your prices! People like me, want to go to see and swim in a pretty beach that is why we pay big $ if the ocean is nasty and beach is oily then no I really don’t want to go unless it’s cheap. Even still, the beach is the #1 reason people visit.


38 Blue Sun Properties June 23, 2010 at 9:10 am

Should the restaurants, bars, go cart tracks, service providers, grocery stores and everyone else reduce their rates as well? Any other service providers or small business owners on here care to comment?


39 Hoosier June 23, 2010 at 11:38 am

Unfortunately, normally the #1 expense on a vacation is the lodging. Like Alabama Hopeful mentions below, supply and demand. If needed, reduce the rates to attract people. As far as restaurants, and entertainment providers, I don’t think it matters much when booking a vacation, that’s not really factored in for me. I figure it’s all about the same in any vacation spot. But to get people to get out of the condo’s and spend money to eat out instead of cooking in the condo, price reductions or discounts would be nice. We may eat out 2-3 meals during the week and that’s about it.

We’re coming down in the coming weeks and we’re hoping the oil stays away. One of the main reasons we didn’t cancel was because of great rate we found for a condo. If the price would not have been reduced, we would have looked to the Atlantic side for our vacation. I know there is no way I can beat the deal I got for a great Condo where we’ve stayed the last 4-5 times down.

I do hope the oil stays away. My parents brought us down to PCB just about every year when I was a kid and I love the place. I’m trying to do the same with my family.

Good luck to all.


40 Alabama Hopeful June 23, 2010 at 10:55 am

If the beaches are open AND clean, I don’t think it’s necessary to reduce your prices unless you’ve seen a drop in reservations. If you have seen a drop, then reducing the prices may help.

We rented a condo during the week of July 4th, so we paid premium rates for it. If we can’t go on the beach, we’ll be pretty upset because we paid a lot of money for a condo on the beach. If we just wanted a nice hotel/condo with a nice pool, I could have gotten one cheaper and closer. The whole point of booking where we did was to be on the beautiful beaches of the Emerald Coast.

Oil Spill or no Oil Spill, the rules of supply and demand still apply. Sometimes demand drops, and a price adjustment is necessary.


41 Muffincake June 23, 2010 at 9:35 am

Only businesses that rely on tourist should reduce prices 😉


42 Jen June 23, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Just vacationed at PCB last week and gladly didn’t encounter any oil. We did however see lots of suds on Friday and wondered if it was chemical dispersant? What’s upwith the thick, slimy algae? Is that from the chemical? We noticed there were lots of dead critters in the green sludge. Overall had a great time, but looks like this will be the last for a very long time if it is damaged!


43 Hayley June 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm

What are the postives vs the negatives for visitng PCB???? I can think of loads of positives but only one negative… that negative thing (oil) going to stop us enjoying our summer????? Hmmmm I really hope not!!! What you need is to get local teenagers to help, give them all a free t-shirt and some gloves and do a massive clean up??? Ideas people…never give up hope!!! Anyway aparantly there is a company in Brighton England who can help sort of the mess….I just saw it on the news. Fingers crossed!!!!


44 Josh June 23, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Hayley: we have had several countries offer to help from the beginning but our Govt. will not accept. It is appalling to me that we are always available to help another country while in crisis but in our time of need we do not accept the help.


45 Hayley June 23, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Grammar? 🙂 I’m a tired teacher and cannot be bothered with it or spelling today!!!


46 littlewing June 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Ok, question:?? Should condo owners discount their rentals by 40% or
more just so vacationers can come to Florida and “Stimulate The
Economyshould. How about this question:?? Are condo owners getting any takers at the current rental prices?? Are people booking rentals? if so then why would you discount your rental?, If they are not booking due to the possible oil that is due/maybe to come on beach, would they risk that for a cheeper price on the rental. my quess is, yeah… forsure they will book. so Condo owner, if you want people in your rentals and it means that the only way would be to discount count your rental , then one must do what one must do.


47 Blue Sun Properties June 23, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Here are some of the search queries people have used to find our website that we have had over the past 3 days;

cheap beach deals due to oil spill
cheap beech rentals due to oil spill
cheap codos in the gulf because of oil spill
cheap condo because of oil in ft walton beach
cheap condo rates oil spill
cheap condo rental due to oil spill in pcb
cheap condos due to oil spill
cheap condos oil spill
cheap florida beach vacations due to oil
cheap florida oil spill rates
cheap panama city vacation rentals because of oil spill
cheap rates at the beach because of oil spill
cheap rates in florida due to oil spill
cheaper condos oil spill
cheaper rooms at beach because of oil spill
will condo prices be cheaper due to oil spill
are the cheap condos in panama city , due to oil spill
condos cheap in panama city beach oil june 20 2010

Do you think these people are looking to stimulate the economy?


48 James D. June 23, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Everyone has been pummeled by the (government-induced) downturn in the economy. The libs in the U.S. Congress tried to make home ownership a right bestowed upon every citizen (it is NOT) — and consequently strong-armed (even threatened) the banks to loan to people who couldn’t ever possibly afford to maintain a mortgage.

We know what happened next. New financial products were relied upon by banks to make up for their losses on sub-prime lending — creating a bigger mess. Had our Congress not pursued this highly risky “social engineering” via Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other lenders — we wouldn’t have had such a horrible collapse reverberating through the entire economy!!

Additionally, too many people borrowed against the “appraised” value of their home, turning home mortgages into ATM machines to support unsustainable lifestyles. Now those same folks are looking for bargains everywhere they go. They’re “tapped-out” and “underwater” and trying to keep the good times going.

It’s not surprising the word “cheap” keeps appearing in Google search terms for condo rental websites.


49 JWatson June 24, 2010 at 5:34 am

Headed to PCB July 18-25 tarballs or oil. We vacation here every year and are coming anyway! I wish BP and the govt would get their thumb out of their butts and get busy containing the oil and get very aggressive skimming what is already out there!!!


50 Phyllis June 24, 2010 at 7:53 am

I’ve been in Panama City Beach since the 19th. We have seen a few workers combing the beaches, but we’ve still seen no sign of oil (except Panama Jack suntan oil-ha). The beaches and the water are just as beautiful as ever. If you have plans to visit PCB, please don’t cancel due to the news reports. I almost changed my plans, but we decided to come on down. I’m so glad we are here because it has been a fabulous week.


51 Ken Agnew June 25, 2010 at 8:22 am

James D I am looking for a bargain a nice cheap condo would be nice. Just because you couldnt get a loan during these times left you bitter against we that did.I bet you wear a safety belt in your recliner as no chances today is the word.Been down but back up is where i am today. Nothing wrong with a bargain James D.


52 Ken Agnew June 25, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Whats the deal you men and women cover yourself with suntan oil and worry about oil in the ocean .Look at it this way free oil for your suntan.