BP Sand Shark Hunts Tarball Prey On Devastated Gulf Coast Beaches

Meet the Sand Shark. Unveiled this week on the sands of Alabama, this imperfect tool is perhaps the best weapon yet against the oily disaster BP has wrought against the Gulf coast. Updated.

Wider than traditional sand combing rigs, BP's Sand Shark is perhaps the most effective beach cleaning device implemented in the fight to save the U.S. oily southern coast. Its digging mechanism is capable of reaching 18 inches below the surface, but even with that reach some contamination will remain behind.

The one pictured here is the prototype (demonstrated for the press on Orange Beach, Alabama), but within six weeks an entire fleet of these new vehicles will stalk Gulf Coast beaches for tarball prey:

The Sand Shark works by churning up sand with mandible-like augers that feed the material onto a conveyor belt. From there the sand is carried into a tow-behind machine that is normally used to sieve aggregate like clay and sand in brick and mortar manufacturing. In the sifter the sand tumbles through a series of screens that filter out most everything larger than 2 mm while allowing debris-free sand to spill back onto the beach. - al.com

And even though the Sand Shark is effective, the white sandy beaches that were a staple of certain Gulf beaches may never be the same. As described by al.com, the oil-stained beaches, even after a Sand Shark cleaning, still retain a damp, oily feeling underfoot.

Update: Reader Steve found us a video of the Sand Shark press conference:

Yeah, this is going to take a long, long time. [al.com]