Tar balls are washing up on Texas beaches, here’s why

Tar balls have been widely reported in recent weeks

GAVLESTON, Texas – Be careful not to get yourself in a sticky situation this week if you’re visiting some Texas beaches.

Galveston authorities told KSAT sister station KPRC that tar balls have been reported on beaches from the Bolivar Peninsula all the way to the Matagorda area which is just north of Rockport.

Tar balls are naturally occurring and an official with Padre Island National seashore previously told KSAT that they’re just a sign of the abundance of oil in the area and that the oil seeps out naturally from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.

“The material becomes sunbaked and encrusted in branching bryozoans and other sea life during this time,” Galveston coastal resources manager Brandon Hill told KPRC.

Oil-based products, specifically baby oil, are considered to be the best way to wash the tar off shoes, skin, etc.

While the tar balls are washing up in a widespread area, Hill said it’s not at a level that elicits a response from the Texas General Land Office oil spill response team.

Hill told KPRC that while the sightings have only been reported in those areas, the tar balls are “most likely occurring all along the Texas coast right now as a result of the recent storms.”

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About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.