The Plains All American Oil Spill at Refugio has already affected miles of the Gaviota Coast. Heavy beach oiling has been reported at marine protected areas (MPAs) just south of the spill: Naples and Campus Point. Fora
Naples Reef is a favorite for advanced scuba divers and spearfishermen, who praise its underwater pinnacles, caves and kelp forests that teem with fish, seals, and invertebrates. In November 2014, the Santa Barbara MPA Collaborative teamed up with Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and Truth Aquatics to lead a dive trip to the secluded reef.
Campus Point and Coal Oil Point, both within Campus Point SMCA, are the mainstay surf breaks for Isla Vista’s surfing community. Sea kayakers, fishermen, and beach goers heavily visit the areas, as well as nearby State Beaches at Refugio and El Capitan that are closed until further notice.
The immediate and long term impacts the spill will have on marine life in these areas is unclear. Scientists involved in MPA monitoring and at UC Santa Barbara have been studying this part of the coast for years, and mobilized immediately after the spill to collect samples.
Oceanspaces presented in depth information on the spill in the context of South Coast baseline MPA monitoring, which has established an “unprecedented wealth of detailed information” that will “serve as a reference point for identifying changes.”
The knowledge base researchers have put together from MPA monitoring will help determine the effects of the spill on the Gaviota Coast – as well as guide efforts to remedy it.