TWARS (This Week at Reef Seekers) - October 3-10

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Ken Kurtis

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Not a good way to start October. . .

HUNTINGTON BEACH OIL SPILL - There is an ecological disaster in the making whose overall damage is yet unknown. An oil pipeline about 5 miles out from Huntington Beach has sprung a leak and as of this writing (Sunday evening), it's estimated that 126,000 gallons (3,000 barrels) has fouled the ocean so far. The spill was first detected Saturday morning around 9AM when oil company workers noticed a sheen in the water. However, there's an assumption that the leak started before that. The pipeline is owned by Amplify Energy and operated by Beta Offshore Operating Co., LLC, which is a subsidiary of Amplify. It appears the pipeline brings production from the Elly/Ellen/Eureka trio to the Beta land site in Long Beach. Simply put, this is going to have a horrible ecological outcome even once the leak is stopped and the oil cleaned up. According to Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley, wind/tide/waves have moved the spill onshore and "infiltrated the entirety of the (Talbert) Wetlands" and destroyed it. Not good news and it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to restore those wetlands. There's an excellent article in the Mercury News about the Beta Offshore field along with some disturbing pictures of the oil coming ashore that can give you a better idea of why this is such an issue: HUNTINGTON BEACH OIL SPILL.

WHY THIS MATTERS - For those who have wondered why people oppose offshore drilling, think of the Huntington Beach spill (which is relatively small). This is why. In case you've ever wondered why people feel the need to create Marine Protected Areas where fish can thrive, this is why. In case you've ever wondered why creations of wetlands to provide breeding and nesting grounds for various species is important, this is why. If you ever wondered why people say we need to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, this is why. And over the next few days, while they'll try to recover the spilled oil (1200+ gallons recovered so far - <1% of the estimate spill total), the slick will continue to spread southward due to the natural motion of the ocean. So look for this to start hitting Newport Beach, Corona del Mar, Crystal Cove, and maybe even moving as far south as Laguna Beach. The Ellen/Elly/Eureka rigs have been in place (I think) since the 1980s. They're great to dive. To my knowledge, there's never been a major problem. Until now. And this one relatively limited spill has done damage that will take decades from which to recover, if that is indeed even possible.

WHAT YOU CAN DO - Here are some ways you can help:
• If you spot oiled wildlife - (877)823-6926 (Oiled Wildlife Care Network)
• Volunteer to assist in animal rescue - (714)374-5587 (HB Wetlands)
• Questions about the response - (714)374-1702 (City of HB Hotline)
• Make a donation - Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center
• Or donate to: International Bird Rescue
And a reminder from the Bolsa Chica Conservancy: "Do not attempt to capture and transport any affected wildlife; there are response teams deployed already. For your own safety and to keep the areas clear for trained workers, please stay away from affected beaches."

SOME MORE BAD NEWS: FIRE ON GUANAJA - There was a major fire a few days ago on the island of Guanaja, Honduras, near Roatan and Utila. At least 30 homes and business (possibly including some resort properties) were destroyed. You can read more about this here: GUANAJA FIRE.

SOME GOOD NEWS FROM LOBSTER WEEKEND - No fatalities or Chamber treatments that we know of, as of 6PM Sunday. Good work everyone!!!

AVALON REPORT - We had a nice time diving Avalon this past Monday, despite less than stellar conditions. About 20 feet of greenish viz and lots of particulate in the water. but we saw a lot of cool stuff, including a few BIG Giant Sea Bass, and a lot of Sheephead and juvy Garibaldi, and the Cousteau plaque is in good shape. We did have one unfortunate casualty: My lunch!!! I walked away to help one of our divers while we were eating only to soon realize that there were six seagulls fighting over who got to enjoy my turkey, ham, and Fig Newtons. Sea Gulls - 1, Ken - 0. But we got some good pix so I guess it as worth it: AVALON PIX 9-27-21.

And that'll do it for now. Hope you have a great week, and let's go diving soon!!!

- Ken​
 
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