Marine Pollution Bulletin
Since 1979, about 9000 data points for tar on beaches, floating tar, and dissolved/dispersed petroleum hydrocarbons have been collected by fourteen governments in the Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico region. Analysis of these data has allowed an assessment as to the status of petroleum pollution in the region. Tar levels on wind-ward exposed beaches are very high and impact tourist use of them. Data also indicate that dissolved/dispersed hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Mexico are much higher than that measured by the 1975–1980 MAPMOPP study in ‘clean’ areas of the World's oceans. Indications are that about half of the tar in the region enters by way of the prevailing current and wind regime from the North Atlantic gyre system. The remaining half comes mostly from tanker cleaning and ballast discharge in the region.