Tar balls surface at Cansaulim

“The authorities are turning a blind eye… This seems to be an annual phenomena destroying our coast !”


The choppy sea conditions have delivered another seasonal horror. Tar balls have surfaced in some coastal areas, especially Velsao, Cansaulim, Arossim and Cavelossim on Wednesday and tourism stakeholders expect the full impact may be felt in the next few days.

The black streaks of darkish oily material start smearing the sandy white beaches around May due to the violent churning action in the sea.

While the grounded pontoon at Arossim beach is itself an eyesore, the disappointed fishermen and tourism stakeholders in the area had another cause for heartburn.

“Tar balls started surfacing here on Wednesday and the oily matter has spread on Arossim beach,” a fisherman said. The wave action gains momentum in May and the force of the waves carries the oily matter towards the shore, as the wind speed accelerates.

Velsao and Cavelossim beaches on the extreme ends of the 20-odd km long Salcete coastline have been quite vulnerable to the messy oily patches in the past.

Tar balls have also been seen in Velsao on Wednesday and to a lesser extent in Cavelossim, sources said. Weathering processes over a period of time eventually create a tarball that is hard and crusty on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside. Winds and waves tear the slick into smaller patches that are scattered over a much wider area, states a paper on tar balls on national institute of oceanography (NIO) website.

In addition to impacts on tourism activities, the deposition of oily matter affects benthic life on the beach. Bivalves and shell fish live in the burrows of the top layer. “The carpet of oil chokes them and other organisms, which are the food of other fishes,” says Shakuntala Mesquita, a Colva resident. Mesquita had studied the subject for a thesis in marine sciences.

“There should be a quick response system to clean the beaches after tar balls surface on the coastline. Otherwise, we will face disaster in future if infrastructure to tackle these problems is not improved,” Cruz Cardozo, president of shack owners welfare society said.