Tar Balls Invade India

While Spain’s Costa Blanca region battles vicious translucent jellyfish and Alabama’s beaches face down Taylor Hicks, India’s west coast is getting its hands messy with something truly unusual. The hippies and jetsetters alike who frequent the tiny, seaside state of Goa, India, have temporarily stopped fighting over hammocks to observe one of the weirdest shoreline invasions yet: The pristine beaches have recently been awash with tons of tar balls, the semi-solid, smudgy layers of slime caused by the dumping of used oils by ships. Dear ships dumping oils into the sea: have you not learned anything from the oil leak on our Gulf shore?

Anyway, this is nothing unusual, as it happens every year. It’s only been abnormally prominent this past week. Goa’s Tourism Minister, Nilkanth Halarnkar, said, “The Coast Guard, Navy, as well as marine scientists, were being roped in to brainstorm and come up with ways to curb the tar ball menace in the future.” The tar balls are being collected and sent to an oil refinery for incineration. Goa, one of the more popular destinations in India, has almost 80 miles of (generally) untainted beaches. But visitors during their high season will have to somehow get used to the “sticky” situation: the tar balls look like they might be washing up on shore until October.

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