Huntington Beach Oil Spill Leaves Environmental Ruin in Path

On October 2nd, 2021 an oil pipeline off the coast of Huntington Beach broke and leaked approximately 144,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean. This created a 13 square mile oil slick, which was first reported to the coast guard by anchored ships.

This spill was not as catastrophic as some other oil spills, but it still poses a major threat to wildlife, particularly birds. This is partially due to the fact that birds are beginning to migrate south over this area. Animals who have been covered in oil are at high risk of many illnesses such as hypothermia and poisoning. These illnesses don’t even include cases where the oil was ingested by animals. 

Birds covered in oil have a detox process to break down the harmful hydrocarbons. However, this process actually causes damage to DNA and does more harm than good. Birds can barely fly with oiled feathers and this interrupts their migration. One way this spill affects the entire ecosystem is through its killing of plankton. The entire food chain begins with plankton, so their death will lead to a trickle down the entire food chain. 

One of the biggest concerns over this oil spill is the recovery process. The media normally covers oil spills with pictures of injured or dead birds and marine life. Seepage is not visible and goes on for years after the initial spill. Now all efforts are going towards recovery from the oil spill and treating the affected animals.