Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘Santa Barbara’

May 17, 2009

Studying natural oil seepage in Santa Barbara area

There’s an excellent report on the Santa Barbara natural oil seepage from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The study documents the 5,280 to 6,600 gallons (nearly 20 to 25 tons) of oil per day that seeps into the area waters and has been active for hundreds to thousands of years. In earlier days local Native Americans used the oil to waterproof their boats.

From the online report:

The water was calm and flat—dampened by a widespread, iridescent film of oil on the surface. Big oil patties floated about. The air smelled like diesel fuel.

By any definition, it was a classic oil spill. But we were the only boat in the area—no Coast Guard, no oil booms, no throngs of cleanup crews in white Tyvek suits, no helicopters, no media, and no shipwreck.

Why? Because this oil spill was entirely natural. The oil had seeped from reservoirs below the seafloor, leaked through cracks in the crust about 150 feet (45 meters) under water. Lighter than seawater, the escaped oil floated to the ocean surface.

Read more & view photos: While Oil Gently Seeps from the Seafloor

January 29, 2009

Remembering Santa Barbara oil spill 40 years ago

Excellent opinion piece in San Jose Mercury News from Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara who writes on the efforts to block opening more oil drilling on California coast:

“Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Santa Barbara oil spill. On Jan. 28, 1969, a blowout on a Unocal rig six miles off the coast of California spilled 3 million gallons of oil into the ocean. Oil spoiled 35 miles of coastline from Rincon Point to Goleta and tarred Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel islands. The blackened corpses of oil-soaked birds, seals and dolphins washed up on our beaches. Citizens were outraged, and the modern environmental movement was born.

Although we have come a long way since that tragic day, recent events indicate that some have forgotten history. At this critical time, we must remember that the choices we make today will decide whether our shoreline and coastal oceans are exploited or protected for years to come. This is especially true for Santa Barbara. Drilling off the Santa Barbara coastline carries with it the same significance as a violation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

In 2008, the “Drill Here, Drill Now” crowd caused a dramatic shift in offshore oil drilling policy. In July 2008, former President Bush repealed the Executive Order imposed by his father in 1990. In September 2008, Congress didn’t renew the moratorium on drilling for oil and gas on the outer continental shelf, opening up federal waters off the California coast for drilling for the first time since the 1981 moratorium…” Full opinion column here

December 11, 2008

Santa Barbara spill update: 3 oiled birds in care

According to the California’s Oiled Care Network (OWCN), three live oiled birds are now in care following the Sunday morning leak near a Santa Barbara Channel oil platform. (Photo above of Grebe: Erica Lander/IBRRC)

The birds are being treated at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center in San Pedro. IBRRC co-manages this center as a member of OWCN. This is the OWCN’s largest oiled bird response facility in Southern California.

Greg Massey, OWCN Assistant Director, says:

“The birds are being given supportive care (food, fluids, and supplemental heat). We’ll monitor blood tests, body temperature and weight to determine when they are stable enough to be cleaned. This is a critical time for the birds as they begin to regain strength and fight the external and internal effects of oiling.”

IBRRC has three staff members in the Santa Barbara area assisting in the search and collection of oiled animals. Our organization is a proud member of OWCN, which is statewide collective of wildlife care providers and regional facilities interested in working with oil-affected wildlife.

Meantime, most of the spilled oil near Platform A has been cleaned up. A total of 1,400 gallons of oil (34 barrels) has been mopped up. Officials raised the amount of oil spilled since the December 7, 2008 incident. At one time the amount was reportedly 1,100 gallons. (Note: The standard oil barrel is 42 US gallons)

Platform A was the site of the massive January 29, 1969 oil spill. For eleven days, 3 million gallons of crude spewed out of the well, as oil workers struggled to cap the rupture.

Any injured wildlife should be reported to 877-823-6926.

Also see the new OWCN blog and website for more info.

December 9, 2008

IBRRC activated in Santa Barbara oil leak

Three members of IBRRC’s oil response team have been dispatched to a small oil leak off the coast of Santa Barbara. At least 1,134 gallons (27 barrels) were reportedly spilled on Sunday, December 7, 2008.

No oiled birds have been found. On Tuesday team leaders from the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) will help coordinate the search for possible oiled animals.

A total of 882 gallons that spilled has been recovered. The spill is near Platform A in the Santa Barbara Channel about six miles offshore of Summerland. The company operating the platform, DCOR LLC, reported the spill Sunday morning when workers noticed an oily sheen around the platform. See map below.

Platform A was the site of the massive January 29, 1969 oil spill. For eleven days, 3 million gallons of crude spewed out of the well, oil workers struggled to cap the rupture. Blown by winds and swells the oil created a 800 square mile slick. See history of spill

Following the 1969 spill, Earth Day was born nationwide. Many people consider the oil spill a major impetus to the modern environmental movement.

News reports:

Los Angeles Times


Santa Barbara Indepedent

View Larger Map

September 28, 2008

Schwarzenegger against more offshore oil drilling

Using his strong memory of the catastrophic 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger renewed his opposition to any new oil drilling off the state’s coastline.

Schwarzenegger remembers walking the beach in his Santa Monica bodybuilding days after the Santa Barbara oil spill: “Every single time I walked around Muscle Beach, my feet were stuck with tar and there were dead birds laying around,” Schwarzenegger told the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco this week. “I think the people of California don’t want to go through that again. I think we must protect our pristine coastline.”

Schwarzenegger’s opposition to additional offshore drilling puts him at odds with other Republicans, including presidential candidate John McCain. McCain continues to make offshore oil drilling a major component of his energy platform. He touts the “drill here, drill now” mantra during campaign stops outside California.

Memories of the January 29, 1969 spill are still fresh in this state. The oil spill happened when a Union Oil Co. platform blew out six miles off the coast of Summerland. For eleven days, as 200,000 gallons spewed out of the well, oil workers struggled to cap the rupture. Blown by winds and swells the oil created a 800 square mile slick.

At least 3600 birds – mainly grebes and cormorants – died in the spill. The next year only 200 grebes were counted in an area that was once home to 4000 to 7000.

At the time, Fred L. Hartley, president of Union Oil uttered these insensitive words: “I don’t like to call it a disaster,” because there has been no loss of human life; I am amazed at the publicity for the loss of a few birds.”

Following the spill, Earth Day was born nationwide. Many people consider the oil spill a major impetus to the modern environmental movement.

More history:

Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network: 1969 Oil Spill

Oil Spill in Santa Barbara

Media reports on Schwarzenegger’s speech: San Jose Mercury News

March 24, 2008

Birds sickened along central coast a mystery

IBRRC has been assisting with the care of hundreds of birds that have been showing up with a mysterious illness along the central coast of California from Morro Bay south to Santa Barbara. Many of the 200+ birds are also showing signs of oiling.

The grebes are being treated at IBRRC’s Corelia and San Pedro centers. They are mainly Western and Clark’s grebes, two species that are common long the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Many have come from the Oceano Dunes area near San Luis Obispo. About one-third the birds have died.

Feather samples of the oiled birds are being examined by the state’s Fish and Game division: the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR). The samples should help determine if this the result of natural seepage in the area or an unreported oil spill.

Oil seepage occurs naturally all along the coast of California. Most of seeps affect the Santa Barbara Channel area near Coal Oil Point. Oil seeps have been documented by early California explorers and by coast-dwelling Chumash Indians. Recent storms may have stirred up the oil which usually floats on currents as tar balls. See a map of California oil seeps

Pacific Wildlife Care center in Morro Bay has been collecting the birds and arranging transportation to IBRRC’s centers.