Visitors notice tar washing up on area beaches

We spoke with some experts who told us where the tar balls come from and how you can get rid of them if they get on your skin or belongings.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Well, if you’ve already hit the beach this summer, you may have noticed some gooey, black tar lining our shoreline tar balls are being reported on parts of the Padre Island National Seashore. Most times– they are a natural occurrence from oil that seeps from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, but researchers tonight say it’s unclear if these tars are natural– or refined oil. 

The Texas General Land Office reports that the tar balls come ashore in the summer — due to changes in ocean currents. Director of Community Engagement at the Harte Research Institute, Jace Tunnell, gave us an inside look at what might be behind the tar balls. 

“The reason we see a lot of it, or think we see a lot of it is… in the summertime is because it’s hot and it gets gooey and so that way it gets on you. In the wintertime it’s cooler so it’s not as gooey, and so it might not stick to you.”

So how exactly do you get rid of the pesky tar — if it gets on you– or your possessions-while out on the beach?

Well, park rangers on the Island have an answer for that….

“If anyone gets tar on them or their shoes, then you can def use some baby oil to remove that,” said Kelly Taylor, Padre Island National Seashore. “And it’s simple just to use like if it’s on your skin- use it. Put a little dab on a cotton ball and slowly, gently wipe it away as it comes off. If it’s on your shoes you obviously can add a little bit more.”

Researchers we met with said they expect the problem to get worse over the next couple of weeks.

Park rangers say if you plan to head out to the beach, just keep an eye out and remember to bring some baby oil.

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