California governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County after a ruptured pipeline spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the ocean near Refugio State Beach.
There’s nothing to drive home how devastating an oil spill is than seeing its effect on wildlife — in this case a brown pelican covered in oil and struggling for its life. It’s one of the more harrowing things I’ve seen.
Fortunately, I came across very few oiled animals out there at the spill. And it was comforting to have people from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on the scene to help with the rescue effort.
But I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of these images in coming days and weeks, as the Gaviota coast is home to a rich diversity of wildlife and the spill is already affecting a swath about 10 miles wide.
I took quite a few photos out there at the spill, but this one seems to have struck a nerve, already popping up on dozens of news sites. I’ll have more images to share soon.
I went up with my pilot friend John this evening for an aerial view of the oil spill. It was hazy and the visibility wasn’t great, but you could clearly see the oil slick covering the area from Refugio State Beach toward El Capitan State Beach.