Emerald Coast Chapter

We are the beach people. The surfers, paddle boarders, kayakers, fishermen, swimmers, beach runners, and walkers. We are activists who want to protect the ocean environment, and our access to it! The ocean and beaches are our playground! More Details
March 31, 2015

Coastal Monitoring Resources

The Emerald Coast Chapter is organizing a volunteer-run, coastal monitoring coalition to help patrol and protect our beaches. As part of the coalition creation, the Chapter is hosting a series of public coastal monitoring training sessions. These are some of the resources that are discussed, and that you may find are helpful as you monitor our local beaches.

Oil Protocol:

First of all, it is NOT suggested that you deliberately pick up the oil. Generally gloves are needed for that, as well as proper zip-loc bags for storage and sharing with responders. NITRILE gloves can be purchased at various dollar or grocery stores if you feel inclined to mitigate the MC252 oil from our Gulf waters or shoreline. If you find oil, make a note of the date, time and location (use GPS, compass coordinates, or use a landmark such as a crosswalk or access point). You’ll need this information later when you report the oil to the Coast Guard. If you find oil, please take a moment to call the USCG NRC at 800-424-8802 then Press 1 to make a report. This might take 3 minutes or so to do.

Don’t be intimidated if you don’t have all the information. They might ask the temperature, or wind speed, or wave heights, but just have the needed information handy which is:  DATE, TIME, and the PLACE by a GPS or compass coordinate, or a landmark such as a beach crosswalk.
If you give your phone number, DWH Responders Petty Officers Burnett or D’Arecca will call you for additional details. They were at the meeting on Wednesday night and are happy to speak with you about the suspect oil you found on the beach.

Eventually, we are hoping for a tar/oil “drop station” which could be placed at the EXIT of the Parks, or just after the exit, where one could conveniently drop it into some type of small box or unit.

If you find oily debris and are unsure of whether or not to report it, please feel free to reach out to Susan Forsyth with the Emerald Coast Surfrider Chapter. You can text her photos, and she will discuss your findings if you are on the fence about it. Susan Forsyth Vice Chair, Emerald Coast Chapter Surfrider Foundation: 630-624-0040

Identifying Oil:

MC252 is generally brownish rust in color, not always, but generally in that tone. Black or glossy dark globs of oil substance often are result of bilge or other oiling activity.

Peat will be crumbly, and often leaves black flecks on the sand it is sitting on. Not that all peat is merely organic roots and vegetation, but more times than not, the dark peat will not have oil inside.

However it has been documented that MC252 (BP) oil has been inside of the peat. The only way to know is to break it open, and you might see a brownish-rust soft crude-oil smelling debris inside.

It is not suggested that you go to that extensive investigation unless you have proper gloves on to avoid oil contact to your skin. There are also rocks, charred wood, minerals that sit on our beaches which can resemble oil too.

The oil will often stick to shells or since it weighs the same as a shell, you will find it mixed in with shell hash, or in the wrack line, where you see the shorebirds eat or crab resting- an area full of rich resources for our beach system.

Oil ID 2 Oil ID 1

Photo documentation:

Generally it is suggested to take photos when you find the pollution on the ground/surf. Then take a photo of your surroundings of where you are for this pollution incident. Then take a screen shot of the specific place-either with Google Earth or Maps. This is discussed at the end of this post. If you see birds, crab, children, dogs at the place of the incident, please document that as well.

If you see that people are causing problems around a sea turtle nest, or harassing any marine life/beach wildlife, please photo document that incident along with the Latitude/Longitude if possible.

If you notice what could be sea turtle tracks- which look like scoot marks from large feet, or from some type of beach chairs, etc… try to take photos of that to share with officials, along with GPS/Lat-Long.


Cigarette butts are one of the top pieces of pollution found on our beaches. The cigarettes also contain dangerous compounds, and if you have gloves and a way to dispose of them, the turtles and fish certainly don’t need that as part of their diet plan!

Cans- it takes 400 years for an aluminum can to deteriorate.

Plastics- We’ve all heard of the dangers of plastic, plastic rings used for cans etc… removing these things from our beach creates a healthy environment for all.

Fishing lines- Again, we’ve seen the tragic results of fishing line inside marine mammals, or injuring shorebirds. Disposal is always appreciated.

Balloons- These latex and mylar pieces of trash are very dangerous to sea life. Removing these items from our beaches is always a plus!

More here on eliminating single use plastics!


Please DO NOT attempt to assist the animals.
Permit holders are the only ones who are able to touch any of the wildlife.
First contact the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to report the animal and for information on how to proceed.

Call the FWC regarding:
Sea Turtle Observations- nesting, harassment, strandings.
Shorebirds- disruptions of nesting areas, harassment, injuries.
Marine Mammal strandings or death.

888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922) Press 7.
To report fish kills, contact the Fish Kill Hotline: 800-636-0511

For more FWC reporting resources click here.

Key Contact Information:

Susan Forsyth Vice Chair, Emerald Coast Chapter of Surfrider Foundation



Please text or call Susan if you have pictures of suspect oil, or peat, or to report anything unusual along the beach. Please contact Susan to discuss any concerns or suggestions on the Coastal Monitoring Coalition, as this program is in its beginning stages.

Communication Tools:


Follow us on Twitter @GulfCMC and use the hashtag #gulfcmc to track all pollution on our Gulf beaches.

You can take a photo, and immediately upload it to twitter as a “tweet” on your own page. If you add @GulfCMC it will also be on our page. If you can hashtag it #gulfcmc this will allow your report or photo to be tracked and accessible. If you have an NRC number, you can add that to your tweet too.

Sample Tweet:

NRC 111 1012 Tar balls in wrack line at Santa Rosa Beach Florida 3/17/15. Pelicans/terns fishing too. #gulfcmc @GulfCMC

Then in the same tweet, press the little rectangle box with a mountain-scape on it, to add a photo of the oil onto twitter too.

When you add a photo, this will reduce the number of letters you can use in your tweet to about 117 instead of the 140 characters allowed per tweet.


If you want to add to the formal “documentation process” please go to: http://oilspill.skytruth.org/reports/submit

We have been using this web based gulf oil spill tracking site since June 2010.

If you scroll backwards through the pages, you will see a number of NRC Reports and oil sightings made from the Florida panhandle. Many include photos.

These are from citizens such as yourself.

Google Earth: 

You can add this to your phone if it is not a pre-loaded App.

I will take a “screen shot” of the map which will show Latitude/Longitude. This is helpful if you have multiple areas to report oiling and document

impacts along a stretch of beach. Taking a screen shot varies on each device, but often you will hit 2 buttons at the same time to get a photo of your screen. This is usually the ON/OFF button and what

they refer to as the HOME button on the bottom center of your mobile device. Press both of them at the same time, and it should take a photo of your screen!


Most Android and iPhones have this pre-loaded. It might not be on your first page, so scroll through your Apps to see where yours might be and calibrate it so it can be ready for beach use.

Generally it should immediately show your Latitude and Longitude.

Google Maps:

You should have this on your device already, but most MAPPING will have the Latitude and Longitude of your location. in the least, it will have address to give for your NRC Report.

March 19, 2015

Coastal Monitoring Training

The Surfrider Foundation’s Emerald Coast Chapter is partnering with knowledgeable and experienced coastal monitoring experts to bring you a first of its kind training session. Find out important information on endangered coastal species, beach pollution, coastal erosion, post-storm observations, and oil related impacts.

What: Beach monitoring training session
When: Wednesday, March 25th, 6:30-9:00PM
Where: Escambia County Central Office Complex
3363 West Park Place, Room 104
Pensacola, FL 32505
Who: Everyone!

Here’s a look at what to expect:

Petty Officer Paul Burnett, USCG
Our current DWH responder will discuss how to report a pollution incident to the NRC. He will share photos of unique coastal species and how to properly report injured or dead marine life.

Joey Whibbs
Former DEP SCAT member with exceptional oil spill response experience. Joey will share his extensive knowledge regarding oil spills. He will also discuss the differentiation between oil, peat, discolored sand, and other frequently misreported substances.

Surfrider Foundation Emerald Coast:
Chapter leaders will share information regarding other common sources of beach pollution, including threats to the health of our oceans and sea life by plastics, cigarette butts, balloons, cans,  fishing line, etc. They will introduce you to a mobile app that can facilitate the reporting of pollution and wildlife concerns.

March 11, 2015

Join us for Florida Coasts & Oceans Day

Join the Surfrider Foundation and Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition on March 24th and 25th at the Florida Capitol for Florida Coasts & Oceans Day!

We’ll kick things off with a lobbying training session on March 24th from 6:00-7:30pm at 621 Gallery, followed by a reception and mixer at Grasslands Brewery!

On March 25th we’ll have educational displays from other environmental causes and will spend the day meeting with legislators and attending committee meetings, touring the capitol, and networking with other ocean champions from across the state!

RSVP here!

Find more info on Facebook!

Contest 1
February 13, 2015

Call for Volunteers!

Surfrider is all about grassroots volunteering, that means getting people involved in activities and outreach in our local community and state, and helping them take the lead on creating change! There’s always something you can do to help, and if you have a good idea or know of an opportunity, let us know. For volunteer opportunities contact Mike Sturdivant or Susan Forsyth.

We are actively looking for new members for our Executive Committee, and need new committee members to help lead beach cleanups, plan social events, or implement any other ideas you might have!


February 10, 2015

New drilling off the Atlantic Coast?

The federal government has proposed new offshore drilling for oil off the Atlantic coast. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) Draft Five Year Drilling Program includes plans for oil drilling in the Mid- and South Atlantic, as well as the Arctic Ocean. New offshore drilling would pollute our oceans and cause major impacts to marine wildlife including whales, dolphins, and fish populations. Tell BOEM that we don’t need another Deepwater Horizon on the Atlantic Coast! No to new oil and gas drilling and expanded seismic testing in the Atlantic! Click here to send in your comments!

Oil Rig 2
January 13, 2015

Emerald Coast Chapter to Lead Volunteer Monitoring Efforts


The Emerald Coast Chapter is continuing to monitor our Florida Panhandle beaches for ongoing impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As of the end of December, the Florida DEP and U.S. Coast Guard have completed their monitoring programs. It’s now up to the public and volunteers to report oiling, tar balls, and tar mats. Here’s a bit more information on our Vice Chair, Susan Forsyth’s volunteer efforts:

Susan Forsythe with the Emerald Coast Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to the protection of the ocean, waves and beaches through an activist network, has spent 3,000 hours volunteering to monitor beaches from Bay County to Baldwin County, Ala., and documenting and reporting tar balls to the NRC since the oil spill.

She said she and other members will stay vigilant in that mission. They also are looking into recruiting other beachgoers to help fill the void left by DEP.

“We are talking with the Coast Guard, and they said they would have a training session with locals from the beach community and train them to know how to identify MC-252 oil,” she said. “It has a distinct color and look.”

Surfrider will alert the public when and if this training materializes.

Click here to read the full article. The Chapter is looking for volunteers to help with their monitoring efforts. To find out how you can get involved or to learn more, please contact Vice Chair Susan Forsyth.

Beach Cleanup 1
July 13, 2014

Volunteer Spotlight!

Our very own Vice Chair, Susan Forsyth, was featured as the Surfrider Foundation Florida Chapter Network Volunteer of the Month!

Every Surfrider chapter has a core of volunteers who, when asked, will step up and get things done. If a chapter is fortunate, like the Emerald Coast Chapter, they may also have a leader who understands what needs to happen and makes it so, long before most folks would even notice the opportunity. In the Emerald Coast Chapter, this person is Susan Forsyth.

SusanFSusan first joined our chapter at the very onset of the BP oil disaster. She found our chapter in a state of emergency, desperately attempting to learn about the disaster and hopeful that we could protect our friends, families and beaches. Like many, she was dismayed at the shortcomings of local, State, and Federal disaster response. Rather than simply worry, complain, or try to ignore the impending crisis, Susan immediately embraced the opportunity to engage.

Click here to read about her many accomplishments!

Kid's Surf Classic
July 5, 2014

Kid’s Surf Classic 2014

UPDATED: July 29 – 10:36pm

In the event that we don’t have a ridable wave, you will still want to come out for a morning of fun in the sun. Pack your cooler, bring some shade and don’t forget the sunscreen. Activities start at 8am and go until 11am. Beach games, music and more will be theme of the day.  Those that register will still receive their Kid’s Surf Classic t-shirts. Extra shirts are available while supplies last. Only 60 have been ordered.

Kid's Surf Classic

Get Ready for the 3nd Annual Kid’s Surf Classic

When: August 2, 2014 (rain date is August 3, Sunday)

Time: 8am until champions are crowned

Location: June White Decker Park (near Back Porch restaurant) (Map)

Age Divisions: Super Grom (8 and under), Grom (9 to 13), Exceptional Surfers (Autism Surfs)

Cost: $25 – includes event t-shirt.


You can also support the Emerald Coast Chapter with a donation.


About The Event

The Emerald Coast Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, is stoked to announce the 2nd annual Kid’s Surf Classic. It’s a surfing contest just for kids! For many it will be a first time surfing experience and for some, a chance to show off their skills. For all involved, parents and children alike, it will surely be a great time on the beach. Need a surfboard? We will have a variety of longboards, shortboards, and fishes available for use. Need help catching waves? Have a parent assist you in the line-up, or we’ll provide a surfing expert to help get you into some waves.
More Details

June 18, 2014

International Surfing Day 2014

International Surfing Day is this Friday, June 20, 2014! Join others who love surfing and clean beaches at any of the local International Surfing Day activities.

  • Fluid Surf Shop is hosting a pot luck-BBQ and gathering at Okaloosa Island Access #7.
  • Dog House Surf Shop is hosting a SUP paddle out at Okaloosa Access #2.
  • Our Emerald Coast Chapter will also gather at the Blue Mountain Beach Access for a late afternoon and sunset gathering.

Surfrider members, friends of the ocean, and family are all welcome to every event. If you are not a member, ISD is a great time to join or renew with special promotions going on!


February 24, 2014

Chapter Meeting & Training!

You are invited to an Emerald Coast Chapter Meeting. This meeting is open to members and non-members.

Date and Time

The meeting will be held on Thursday February 27, 2014 at 5:30 to 6:30pm CT.


Join us as we renew our commitment to the protection and enjoyment of our surf and beach. We will discuss ongoing volunteer efforts and training. We will especially welcome your great ideas for new projects!


The meeting will be held in the SoWal Library conference room.

Dial In

You can dial in using the following dial–in number: (712) 432-1212 with Meeting ID: 601-256-663#

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