Millions of mysterious “black pellets” wash ashore in Gulf — Sign of things to come? (VIDEOS)

Black Pellets In The Surf, Kinship Circle Disaster Aid Network (#7 June Towler and Traci Dawson), September 2, 2010:

[W]e walk the shores of a public beach [near Dauphin Island, AL] and photograph tar balls. ... We encounter five dead crabs here, along with several live ones in the ocean surf. Dead crabs float in a dirty pool of isolated water that a local says emerged over the last few days. Minnow-like fish swim in these separate pools. ... Ocean waters are a grimy brown. A light oil odor is present. Millions of little black “pellets” pepper the sand where surf waves roll in and recede. Locals tell us they've never seen black pellets before...

The effect of the ‘‘Prestige’’ oil spill on the plankton of the N–NW Spanish coast, Marine Pollution Bulletin 53, 2006:

Zooplankton is able to feed on oil particles (Johansson et al., 1980; Sleeter and Butler, 1982), which are incorporated to faecal pellets. ... This mechanism might have operated after the Prestige spill. Oil was frequently observed in the gut contents of copepods in a station off A Corun˜a in December and January 2003. Previous studies on the vertical flux of organic matter showed a significant amount of zooplankton faecal pellets recovered in sediment moored off A Corun˜a (Bode et al., 1998)... The possible accumulation of toxic hydrocarbons by phytoplankton and eventual predation of zooplankton... must be taken into account...

A find similar to that in Dauphin Island has turned up near Apalachicola, FL.

Apalachicola Riverkeeper OSPREY Program (Robin Bailey)

Comment from the videographer:

I have noticed a massive amount of oily pellets along the tidal zone on St. George Island Beach, FL ... I noticed them in early June, but the increase is evident as seen in August's video.

Pellets in the sand and surf:

Pellet residue:

Streamers/ribbons floating in nearby waters:

(h/t Robin Bailey and the Apalachicola Riverkeeper OSPREY Program)

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