Heal the Bay staff scientist Sarah Sikich collecting a tar patty sample on a South Bay beach.
Heal the Bay officials believe it’s looking more and more likely that the tar balls washing up on more than 100 miles of Southern California beaches are related to the spill at Refugio beach in Santa Barbara County. Certainty on that must wait on the Coast Guard and NOAA to release the results of tests on the samples. With no timetable for reporting those fundings, people who care about the beaches are getting more frustrated.
"Oil in the ocean is weathered by wind and waves and broken up into smaller tar balls which can spread for hundreds of miles in the ocean," the group's website says. "In the meantime, Heal the Bay has deployed our staff scientists to collect samples and document the oil on our L.A. beaches, which we hope to send off for chemical testing to aid in source identification."
For now, Heal the Bay says oil or tar has been found on these beaches far from Refugio, moving down the coast: Oxnard, Leo Carrillo State Beach, El Matador, Zuma Beach, Surfrider, Sunset surf spot, Santa Monica, Venice, the entire South Bay, Long Beach, and San Clemente. In addition, 130 square miles of fishing grounds have been closed off the Southern California coast.
The known wildlife toll includes 115 dead oiled birds, 46 dead oiled sea lions and 12 dead oiled dolphins just in the area of Refugio. There have been birds and at least oil-covered sea lion recovered in Los Angeles County. But again, the link to the Refugio spill is nit yet determined.
Add Heal the Bay: "We are concerned that some L.A. beaches remain open where oil deposits have been documented. The oil may be hazardous to human health. As a reminder, beachgoers should avoid oiled stretches of beach. If they do encounter oil, they should remove it quickly with baby oil, olive oil or coconut oil."
One of the tar patties washing up all along the coast. Heal the Bay/Sarah Sikich.
Clean-up crews in South Bay. Heal the Bay/Sarah Sikich.