Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Friday, November 28, 2014

Oil Drilling off the Santa Barbara Coast

For thousands of years, the Chumash people lived in this area and had a village right here at the mouth of Jalama Creek.  They used to make ocean-worthy canoes from wood planks and rope, caulked with tar that they found washed up on the beach.  Like the Gulf of Mexico, this area seeps oil from the ocean floor and sits on a huge lake of oil.  There are three huge oil rigs that we can see from Jalama Beach that have been there for decades.  Back in 1969 there was a huge oil spill, the third-largest in US history and the largest ever in California.  I remember seeing pictures of oiled birds and fouled beaches back then and it was my first exposure to an environmental disaster.

There hasn't been a large spill since then, but the oil rigs are somehow ominous on the horizon, because we know what could happen. At night they are all lit up like Christmas trees and at this time of year, the sun sets right behind one of them as seen from Jalama Beach. All these pictures were taken with a telephoto lens, so the platforms look smaller in real life.

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