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Ping Wang, 43, who has studied beaches for 20 years, dug a narrow trench perpendicular to the shoreline, about a foot deep and 5 feet long. A dark, contiguous vein of oil ran horizontally along the walls of the trench, about 6 inches beneath the surface of the sand.
The sheet of oil which was deposited on the beach at high tide Wednesday and stretched some 8 miles was covered by as much as a foot of sand at high tide Thursday, Wang explained.
Wang said he wasn't surprised by the discovery. During a study for the National Science Foundation of oil-affected beaches in Alabama and northwest Florida, he found buried tar balls after cleanup crews had left.
USF Coastal Research Lab geologist Rip Kirby raised another issue with the cleanup on a trip to the shore late Thursday night, when he shined an ultraviolet light on the sand. Flecks of orange — which Kirby identified as oil, or volatile organic compounds — were scattered across the beach. Some dime-sized flecks were spotted on the footpath leading over the dunes, 100 yards from the water — an indication that unregulated foot traffic was contaminating clean sand. Closer to the water, tiny specks of oil covered the sand.
"It's the way they're cleaning it," he said. "They're scooping it up with nets and shaking it. Yes, they're removing the tar balls, but they're also coating clean sand with oil."
Those tiny flecks can't be seen with the naked eye.
"People need to know," Wang said. "The beach is not going to be the same for a long time."
People are stupid, it was videos coming from Florida of parents complaining that their children were getting oil and tar in their heads from the water and still they let children in the waters.