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Fla. environmental specialists pick up BP tar balls

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is still doing its part- on a daily basis- to monitor the effects of BP's Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill. And how many tar balls they find may surprise you.

They are up and out at the beach with the sun.

"Depending on what time of the year, we find them in the water just off the shore or on the beach in the lower part of the beach," said Dominic Marcanio.

Dominic Marcanio and Joey Whibbs are environmental specialists with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

They sift through miles and miles of shore line in Escambia and 5 other counties in Florida searching for surface residue balls- more commonly known as tar balls.

"Being a local to the area, I do feel some emotion when I see it," Whibbs said.

Since June of 2013 which was the end of the active Deepwater Horizon response in Florida, more than 29,000 tar balls have been documented and removed from Florida's beaches.

"We focus most of our efforts on the water in what we call the swash zone, where the waves break on the shore. That's where we will find the tar balls rolling around," Marcanio said.

On an average survey day, the team covers less than a mile but may find dozens of tar balls that can range in size. Some are as small as a pea others can be larger than an apple.

"If we find a significant amount, the coast guard and BP have systems set up to where they can deploy a clean up crews."

But this two man crew does the majority of the work. They  endure long hours, 5 days a week. Maintaining a strong dedication to the cause despite the scope of the problem.

"It doesn't seem that we are putting too much of a dent in it. But it's anyone's guess as to how long we will see this material."

No matter how long it takes, these men say they feel a sense of pride in the work that they do. It's their way of curing the still visible scars of the spill.

"Our beaches are beautiful, dynamic and resilient. But it is important to keep our eyes on it and preserve it for future generations."

Should you come across something that you think looks like a tar ball you should contact the National Response Center.