“This sucks, man,” says Matthew May as he surveys the oil on the formerly pristine beaches of Waveland. “And it stinks, too.” May, who moved to Mississippi from Chicago in 1986 to join family here, has just returned from a trip to the windy city. He’s collected a mess of tar balls on a piece of wood, careful not to touch the toxic goop.
It’s the first he’s seen of the oil, although he found mullet carcasses on the beach three weeks after the Deepwater Horizon exploded. “And let me tell you,” he says, “nothing kills mullets.”
A car mechanic by profession, May’s passion is fishing. He used to spend every weekend on the gulf waters, which he considers to have some of the best shark fishing anywhere. Now his hobby is spoiled. He’s also one of a growing population in the community not working directly with oil or seafood who nonetheless is suffering reverberations from the spill. “Nothing’s going on here,” he says, “It’s dead.”
He eyes the clean-up crews down the beach. They close up their tents as the workday ends, and claim they didn’t find much oil today. “They’re picking up garbage,” he says with disgust. “But it’s not the trash we’re worried about.”