Photos from California's oil spill show tarred shorelines, closed beaches, and fish and birds navigating rainbow oil slicks
- An offshore pipeline has spilled 126,000 gallons of oil along Southern California's Orange County.
- The spill closed major surfing
beaches, shut down six miles of fisheries, and coated birds in oil.
- Photos show tar washing up on beaches and oil slicks intruding on wetlands.
Photos from the shores of Orange County show slicks of oil blanketing ocean waters and thick layers of tar washing up on beaches.
The leak wasfirst reported on Saturday morning when a pipeline, owned by the company Amplify Energy, breached about 5 miles off the coast of
The total spill covers about 13 square miles.
Officials have closed some of Southern California's most popular beaches in the towns of Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and Huntington Beach - a community that bears the nickname "Surf City."
Authorities are investigating the possibility that a cargo ship's anchor caused the pipeline to rupture.
"These ships are anchored and many are awaiting entry into the San Pedro Bay Port complex the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. And in the course of transit it is possible that they would transit over pipeline," US Coast Guard Captain Rebecca Ore said in a
Officials expect the oil to keep washing ashore for several days, according to the Los Angeles Times. Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said beach closures could last weeks or months, The Associated Press reported.
"In a year that has been filled with incredibly challenging issues, this oil spill constitutes one of the most devastating situations that our community has dealt with in decades," Carr said, according to the AP. "We are doing everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our residents, our visitors, and our natural habitats."
Oil spills are also ecological disasters and this one is no exception. It often takes days or weeks to determine the extent of a spill's impacts on wildlife. Photos of the area show fish and seabirds moving through multicolored oil slicks.
Michael Ziccardi, a veterinarian and director of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, said in a news conference on Monday that four oil-covered birds had been found so far. One, a pelican, had to be euthanized due to the extent of its injuries.
"It's much better than we had feared," he said, adding that he's "cautiously optimistic" since it's still early in cleanup efforts, according to the AP.
The oil spill has menaced several ecologically sensitive areas, including the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and the Talbert Marsh in Huntington Beach. These wetlands serve as stopping points for migratory birds.
As of Monday, cleanup crews deployed booms and skimmers to contain the spill and try to prevent oil from further intruding on Talbert Marsh.
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