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Too Much Tar
updated: Jul 14, 2014, 10:54 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

Did anyone else see the massive amount of tar on the beach from UCSB west to Sandpiper yesterday? I walk this section of the beach often, and have never seen it that bad. There was also a definite strong petroleum smell in the air, and what appeared to be hundreds of what looked like sea cucumbers washed up as well. Any answers?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 535367 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 11:20 AM

Some people believe that seepage patterns correspond with plate movement aka earthquakes. Otherwise it's natural variation.


 COMMENT 535370 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 11:36 AM

Always like this during summer. It's a seasonal thing.


 COMMENT 535376 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 12:00 PM

During calm days the seep oil collects in slicks offshore. Then a day of southerlies pushes the slicks up on the beaches. Tends to be a summer pattern.


 COMMENT 535379P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 12:11 PM

California has thousands of naturally occurring seeps. Much of the petroleum discovered in California during the 19th century was from observations of seeps.[28] The world's largest natural oil seepage is Coal Oil Point in the Santa Barbara Channel, California.

The liquid petroleum produces a slick that is many kilometres long and when degraded by evaporation and weathering, produces tar balls which wash up on the beaches for miles around.[2]


Surely this would be an easier (hanging-fruit) source of petroleum as opposed to fracking.


 COMMENT 535381 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 12:26 PM

Fracking/slant drilling/global warming


 COMMENT 535387 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 12:39 PM

El Nino


 COMMENT 535408 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 01:12 PM

The BIG quake is comin'. Are you prepared?


 COMMENT 535410P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 01:14 PM

"The Coal Oil Point seep field offshore from Santa Barbara, California is a petroleum seep area of about three square kilometres, adjacent to the Ellwood Oil Field, and releases about 40 tons of methane per day and about 19 tons of reactive organic gas (ethane, propane, butane and higher hydrocarbons), about twice the hydrocarbon air pollution released by all the cars and trucks in Santa Barbara County in 1990.[1] "


 COMMENT 535411 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 01:18 PM

Great beach to build a luxury resort, not.


 COMMENT 535414 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 01:23 PM

Some blame oil seeps on the beach as a phenomenon occurring naturally.

Don't blame poorly capped well heads from the early 20th Century. Heavens no. Oil companies back then were responsible and environmentally conscious. No, they capped off their played out rigs in such a way that no oil would ever leak from the sea bed.

If you believe that, I've got come real estate on the moon to sell you.


 COMMENT 535427 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 01:55 PM

Did they start that slant drilling project at Vandenberg already? The EDC predicted this would happen.

If you want petroleum smell, try swimming in the ocean off Summerland sometime.


 COMMENT 535458 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 03:14 PM

This is all natural seep. When we were kids surfing Sands, you could put a stick in the tar coming out of the sides of the cliff, surf all day and check said stick before leaving in the afternoon and it would have moved 2 or 3 inches during the day. We would come home and my mom would say something non-PC about a brier patch and rabbit story and then wash us off with paint thinner. A quick soapy shower and was ready to do it again.Yep, surfing in Goleta means you had as much or more tar on your board than wax. Oh and we didn't need leashes because our boards stuck to us.


 COMMENT 535465 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 03:37 PM

Growing up here, we always had one swimsuit for the beach (from the previous year) and one for the pool. Pesky tar. Wish we'd know back then that Vaseline takes it off as well as turpentine or gasoline.


 COMMENT 535470 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 03:56 PM

olive oil or similar cooking oil will disolve the tar off your feet too.

The Chumash used to seal their Tomols with this same tar.


 COMMENT 535508 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 06:04 PM

I guess Venoco needs to suck harder!


 RED CREEK agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 06:14 PM

Walk that beach regularly. It is often clean (look at the upper area sand, it is white), so lots of tar is not the norm. We noticed the blobs yesterday also, which is unusual this summer. May have something to do with the king tides stirring up the ocean bottom, but I think the "seep" idea is a cover for consistent spills from the platform off the coast there 1 mile. Go down past the Bacara peer and the water is clean, only 1 mile up coast.


 COMMENT 535528 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 07:28 PM

From the vantage point of being on a boat there are several places you can actually witness the seeps. To start blaming the oil platforms seems a little short sighted.


 COMMENT 535529 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 07:29 PM

I am there almost every day and I noticed that it was worse today than I have seen in 2 years.


 COMMENT 535530P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 07:41 PM

Here is a paper about the world famous seeps at Coal Oil Point.


And an animation of seeps of Santa Barbara by world-renowned geologistTanya Atwater

Migration of Oil Upward and Out of Breached Strata and Faults to Form Oil Seeps, cross section animation

Hopefully science and geology will be more important than unfounded conspiracy theories.


 COMMENT 535537 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 08:30 PM

458 here- My mom went to UCSB in the early forties and they were taught that Alaskans came all the way to SB to get tar to seal their boats.
It was a two year round trip.
You can paddle out to the naty gas seep and take a inverted 2 liter bottle that you cut the bottom off of, and you can light it on fire if you hold inverted bottle over the bubbles of gas coming to the surface and light the mouthpiece with a lighter. Good fun.Their is more tar on the beach because there is south swell that pushes at the beach in summer when south swell is hitting. Winter north swell pushes the tar south east down channel so we don't have to deal with it as much then.
It ain't a new thing.
By the way, they were also taught that their were no Otters bones in the Indian trash piles. An animal with 1,000,000 hairs per square inch would avoid the tar in the channel like it was the plague.
Yep,no otters past south of Point conception till you get to So.cal
No Snowy Plovers either.
Think about it.


 COMMENT 535538P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-14 08:31 PM

RED CREEK. Go "down" which way, from the Bacara? West or East? Just asking, because I have seen loads of tiny and larger bits of tar on Haskell's beach, all to the East of the pier. And it has been mostly in winter, too.

Once, a lovely young Italian couple, obviously guests at the Bacara, asked me who was responsible for cleaning the tar off the beach. I still get a laugh out of that, each time I think about it.


 TMO agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-15 06:45 AM



 COMMENT 535563 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-15 06:56 AM

just take a look at the earthquake map and you can see the pressure is moving around the ring of fire and we are due, and that big amount of tar is an indicator, take it seriously folks. Store water, food, one dollar bills propane for your camping stove.


 COMMENT 535572 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-15 07:24 AM

Tickling your own, or your kid's feet or grandkid's feet with tar remover is part of the beach scene here. Routine ...........


 COMMENT 535577 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-15 07:42 AM

I have lived here 60 years and grew up here. The tar has been on the beach long before the oil platforms and was a real pain until someone told me how baby oil takes it off fairly easily. Also do not wear good shoes, sandals or flip - flops as they are more difficult to clean and can track the tar places you surely don't want it like your car, home carpeting, etc. Place "tar shoes" in one of the maligned (but multi used) plastic bags and store them for the next time. Ironically when I was on the Spanish, Italian and French Riviera one year I found tar blobs on those pristine beaches. I could'nt believe it. Then I found out that phenomena was caused by Oil Tankers headed for the Suez canal which blew out the balast water in their oil cargo tanks, used to stabalize the ships while crossing the Atlantic. As soon as they entered the Mediterranean they blew out that oily balast water.


 COMMENT 535597 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-15 09:13 AM

Taking off yesterday from 15L at the airport, there was a solid cover of oil sheen. Very large seep. We almost always see areas with seeps when flying that low (on takeoff), but yesterday it was much larger than usual.


 COMMENT 535621 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-15 10:17 AM

597 Could have something to do with sea surface temperature which is running a little higher than normal and has been for a while.


 COMMENT 535948 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-16 08:43 AM

Lovely SB beaches full of Tar and Kelp.


 COMMENT 535955 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-07-16 09:03 AM

414 The early oil well drilling operations were only at the shoreline or short distances out from the shore, usually on piers. The Channel seepage that people see from airplanes and that wind up on the beaches as tar are way beyond any 19 to 20 th century oil drilling technology and are entirely natural seeps that have been explored by divers and diving bells which have photographed and documented the fissures from which this natural gas and crude oil regularly eminates at the ocean floor.


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