An Oil Spill Of the Coast of Southern California

Cherie Laethem

The first report of the oil spill came on October 1, 2021, off the coast of Huntington Beach. This spill released about 25,000 gallons of oil into the water. But what exactly does this mean for sea life, and will this affect San Diego?

What is an oil spill effect on the environment in general?

Oil spills affect the environment, hurting animals like birds, sea turtles, fish, and more. One way it does this is that animals with feathers or fur will not be able to repel cold water if they get covered in oil, and will die of hypothermia. Phytoplankton will be killed by the oil, so the animals that eat the phytoplankton and the animals who eat the animals who eat the phytoplankton will have less food. Also, some animals will accidently eat the oil and could poison themselves. Fish larvae can be killed easily by the oil, and according to the National Ocean Service, “When exposed to oil, adult fish may experience reduced growth, enlarged livers, changes in heart and respiration rates, fin erosion, and reproduction impairment.” Oil spills can block sun from going to underwater plants and kill them. The oil is harmful to humans, and can cause diseases like cancer, respiratory and liver damage, and has other harmful effects.

Will the oil reach San Diego and what is this oil spill doing to the environment?
It already has. Tar balls, which is oil that has become thicker, have been found on San Diego beaches, and this oil spill could affect wildlife years from now. In fact, even where the oil spill took place, while they have found a lot of dead wildlife, it could have been much worse. They also found that a lot less oil had been released into the water then they initially thought, and after testing the water, they reopened Huntington Beach. The amount of oil found on the beaches has also decreased dramatically, but workers are still cleaning up. This does not mean this oil spill isn’t a terrible disaster. Some oil made its way into the Talbert Marsh, and while they cleaned it up fast, the oil could have destroyed habitats there. In time, we may find this oil spill effects the environment in ways we didn’t see at first, so we still need to watch and make sure nothing unexpected happens.

So how did they stop the oil spill from going out of control?

While there was a lot of luck involved, because they acted fast and had a plan, the oil spill was quickly contained. Because of these actions, this disaster was kept from getting much worse.

The oil spill is still being cleaned up and it will take a long time before they are done. It could have been so much worse and destroyed the local environment at Huntington Beach.This story is always changing as new information comes out, so if this interests you, read some of the articles in the sources or read some of their new articles.