• The Point Reyes Beach as viewed from the Point Reyes Headlands

    Point Reyes

    National Seashore California

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Minor Globs of Oil Found at Point Reyes National Seashore on January 17, 1998

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Date: January 18, 1998
Contact: John Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135

National Park Service staff discovered thick oil globules, called tar balls on the beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore on Saturday. The oil was first spotted along Drakes Beach. The source of the oil is unknown. The U.S. Coast Guard and California Department of Fish and Game immediately responded, collected oil samples and began to investigate the situation. The tar balls, typically fist size or smaller, are fresh heavy black oil. Approximately 11 oiled live birds were collected. Approximately 40 more oiled birds, live and dead, were observed.

Many sensitive and threatened species are at risk including snowy plovers, brown pelicans, northern fur seals, elephant seals, and harbor seals. Surveys of beaches began Sunday and will continue with crews under the guidance of Point Reyes National Seashore, California Department of Fish and Game's Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Coast Guard. However, a strong winter has delayed the surveys.

If you see an oiled bird, do not attempt to remove it. Please call (415) 663-8525 or notify a ranger of its location and the time when you saw it.


Did You Know?

Harbor Seal Pup, © Sue Van Der Wal

Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) are present in the waters of Point Reyes year round. Every spring, approximately 7,000 harbor seals, or 20% of the mainland California breeding population, haul out on the beaches of Point Reyes. Look for them in the esteros and in Tomales Bay and Bolinas Lagoon. More...