Coast Watch initiative set up; sheen spotted south of Petit Bois Island

The Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service has announced the launch of Coast Watch, a volunteer initiative focusing on surveying beaches and coastal habitats that may be impacted by the BP oil spill.

Coast Watch volunteers survey, record, and report shoreline observations along about 46 miles of beach in Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson counties.

“Coast Watch is the first line of defense for coastal communities facing possible oil impact,” said Brandi McNeil, MCVS deputy director. “Volunteers in the Coast Watch program play an extremely important role in the oil spill response because they are the most familiar with the beaches and wildlife in their community.”

Individuals who live along coastal communities can watch for oiled wildlife, vegetation, and beaches by becoming a Coast Watch volunteer. Coast Watch volunteers are community members who know the daily wildlife and plants that exist on their local beach. The “Coast Watchers” will assist state agencies, BP, and their partnering organizations in identifying beaches that need attention.

Coast Watchers will work within the coastal communities where they live and commit to do the following:

— Report injured or oiled animals

— Report oiled shoreline

— Report a change in Air Quality

Coast Watchers are not permitted to enter off-limit areas to obtain observations and must not make contact with oiled wildlife, vegetation, and beaches due the health concerns associated with contact.

Citizens wanting to become a Coast Watcher need to register online at Training will be offered on an ongoing basis and be provided to all individuals participating in volunteer activities.

“MCVS is offering a valuable service to the coastal communities and an avenue for the many volunteers who want to participate in response efforts,” said Marti Powers, BP spokesperson. “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with MCVS to provide this assistance to Mississippi.”

To date, more than 4,000 volunteers from 46 states, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Canada, and Australia have registered to help in response to the BP oil spill. Hundreds of volunteers from Mississippi’s lower three counties have given almost 1,000 hours of service, and cleaned and surveyed over 37 miles of beach and coastal habitats.

The Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service engages and supports Mississippians of all ages and backgrounds in service to their communities. As your state office of volunteerism, the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service administers AmeriCorps programs, supports a network of Volunteer Centers, and coordinates other initiatives fostering community engagement and building volunteer capacity throughout the state. Contact MCVS at 888.353.1793 or

Sheen spotted south of Petit Bois Island

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality earlier this afternoon reported that an oil sheen had been spotted 2.1 miles due south of Petit Bois Island.

The island, part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore chain, is about 10 miles southeast of Pascagoula or about 30 miles southeast of Biloxi. No advisories have been issued regarding Biloxi beaches, which remain open to the public.

DEQ said the sheen is part of a patch that has been migrating in a northwesterly direction over the past few days. While the sheen is decreasing in size through evaporation and vessels skimming the water, some of the clear substance is expected to have an impact on Petit Bois, and perhaps Horn Island, within the next 24 hours.
Said DEQ in a release: “Vessels of Opportunity and BP contractors are currently on the scene working to break up the sheen including using absorbent boom. When oil sheen reaches a shoreline it typically evaporates, and that is expected to be the case if it reaches Petit Bois or Horn Islands.”

Read more online

—To read the complete DEQ release about the sheen south of Petit Bois Island, click here.

—To see BP’s latest “Mississippi Key Highlights” — a report that provides statistics on damage and loss-of-income claims, volunteers, amount and types of boom deployed and on order, and other data — click here.

—To visit the oil spill section of the city web site, click here.