144,000 Gallons. Yep. 144,000 gallons of oil have spilled into the ocean off the coast of Huntington Beach, California on October 2, 2021. This resulted in a 13-mile wide oil slick. Since Saturday, it has been spreading south into the cities of Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. Beach closures have been administered all the way down to my hometown of Dana Point. Many wildlife corpses including birds and fish have been washing up on the shores of our beaches. This is just one example of the damaging effects of offshore drilling.
Wildlife and fish can come into contact with the toxic oil through ingestion, absorption, and inhalation. Birds lose their ability to swim, fly, or dive when oil attaches itself to their wings, which often leads to drowning. When plankton and other small organisms are contaminated by the oil, unsuspecting fish ingest them and are subsequently contaminated. Then, larger fish eat these fish and these fish are eaten by bigger mammals etc, creating a process called biomagnification, where each subsequent level of the food chain ingests these toxic chemicals. As a result, the animal at the top of the food chain accumulates the maximum amount of toxins. These oil spills not only affect the fish and wildlife that inhabit the ocean, but they affect humans as well, as a lot of our food is sourced off our coast. Additionally, it is also unsafe for us to swim in it, as it can cause severe damage to our bodies.
What Caused the Oil Spill? While officials are still investigating the source of the cause, they seem to believe it was a ship’s anchor that punctured an oil pipeline on the ocean floor. However, the problem doesn’t lie in the cause of the oil spill, it lies in the process of offshore drilling itself. In addition to the negative impacts of the oil spills, offshore drilling has a direct correlation with climate change, as it releases greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the air. This is not the first large oil spill, and it certainly won’t be the last if offshore drilling continues. Now is the time to find more sustainable renewable energy alternatives before it’s too late!
Ways You Can Help: Below is a link where you can contact your elected state officials to call for permanent protection of California’s outer continental shelf from new oil and gas development. https://secured.surfrider.org/action/engagement?actionId=AR0033734&id=701i00000018YoU
If you encounter oiled wildlife, DO NOT attempt to clean or capture it yourself. Instead, CALL the Oiled Wildlife Care Network at (877) 823-6926.