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

    Point Reyes

    National Seashore California

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Cosco Busan Oil Spill

Contractors on RCA Beach cleaning up bunker fuel from Cosco Busan oil spill.

Contractors on RCA Beach cleaning up bunker fuel from Cosco Busan oil spill.

At 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 7, 2007, an outbound container ship, the Cosco Busan, struck a pier of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, spilling approximately 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel into San Francisco Bay. This is the largest oil spill in the San Francisco Bay since the Cape Mohican incident in 1996. An Incident Command Team was established and appropriate measures were put in place. By Friday, November 9, park staff and visitors began to find oil and oiled birds at Point Reyes National Seashore. Beaches, esteros, and other areas will be closed to the public if oil is discovered at those locations. Check below for the most recent list of closures. Please observe and obey posted signs.

ATTENTION: Please do not approach or pick up bunker fuel or an oiled animal! Bunker fuel is an extremely toxic substance and is dangerous to all animals, including humans. ONLY hazardous materials-trained and equipped personnel should handle bunker fuel or oiled wildlife.

If you locate an oiled bird or a glob of oil within Point Reyes National Seashore, please immediately report it to the Point Reyes National Seashore Dispatch office at 415-464-5170.

Individuals interested in volunteering to help oiled wildlife should contact the Oiled Wildlife Care Network or Wildcare of Marin.

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Current Closures as of 5:00 p.m. on Monday, November 26, 2007
All Point Reyes beaches that were closed due to the oil spill have been reopened.

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Update: Monday, November 26, 2007 5:00 p.m.
Wildcat Beach is now open to the public. All Point Reyes beaches that were closed due to the oil spill have been reopened. Please be aware that beaches may be closed at any time if oil returns.

Update: Wednesday, November 21, 2007 12:30 p.m.
Limantour, Santa Maria, Sculptured and Palomarin Beaches are all now open. Wildcat Beach will remain closed.

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Update: Friday, November 16, 2007 4:00 p.m.
The park plans to reopen Limantour and Palomarin Beaches for Saturday, although there will be a rolling clean-up on the south section of Limantour Beach on Saturday. Sections of Limantour Beach will be closed as a contractor collects oil globules and oiled animals. When they are finished with one stretch of beach, that stretch will be reopened and the next stretch will be closed. Please observe all signs and barriers, and do not attempt to assist by picking up oil or oiled wildlife.

All beaches from Santa Maria Beach at Coast Campground to Palomarin Beach remain closed.

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Update: Friday, November 16, 2007 11:00 a.m.
On Thursday, light amounts of oil (tar balls up to three inches in diameter) was found covering less than 1% of the beach, mainly in the high tide line, at Wildcat Beach and Limantour Beach. The park closed both beaches to protect park visitors from contamination. The Park has continued closures on Palomarin and RCA beaches.

Contractor clean-up crews will be at RCA and Limantour Beaches today. National Park Service resource advisors will be on scene.

At Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, and Point Reyes National Seashore, the National Park Service has 131 employees assigned to the incident. Through the NPS Western Incident Management Team, the parks continue to coordinate response and cleanup efforts with the unified command consisting of the US Coast Guard, California State Fish and Game, and a contract incident management team retained by the responsible party.

Approximately, 140 oiled birds (live and dead) have been found at Point Reyes National Seashore. Resource staff and beach watch volunteers will continue to survey selected beaches today.

Over 1,500 oiled birds have been collected during the incident; approximately 2/3 live and the rest dead.

Wildcat and Drakes Beaches are being surveyed by resource staff today.

Drakes Estero is being surveyed by PRBO for the regional shorebird census and they will check for oiled or dead birds.

Natural Resource Damage Assessments are been conducted by National Park Service and other agency resource staff.

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Update: Thursday, November 15, 2007 11:00 a.m.
Oil has begun to appear on Limantour and Wildcat Beaches. As a result, Limantour, Santa Maria, Sculptured, and Wildcat Beaches will be closed until further notice. RCA and Agate Beaches remain closed.

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Update: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 10:00 a.m.
RCA Beach continues to be cleaned-up. 40 workers were on the beach this morning. Estimated to be 60% cleaned. Some oil returned during the last high tide. Sixty workers are working on adjacent Agate Beach.

Palomarin Beach has been reopened.

The park's Fire Management Officer continues to be located at the Incident Command Post at Treasure Island.

The Incident Command Team for Point Reyes National Seashore, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is located at Golden Gate National Recreation Area and continues operating today. Resources are being deployed from Point Reyes National Seashore to help San Francisco Bay areas.

Three oiled birds were recovered yesterday and sent to the Wildlife Care Center. Park managers expect a small number of oiled birds will continue to come on to park beaches this week.

Beach Watch volunteers will continue to survey for oiled birds at Drakes Beach East and Agate Beach through the rest this week. National Park Service staff will do spot checks at various beaches including Drakes Beach West.

Park biologists have been sent to Golden Gate National Recreation Area to assist with operations at various beach locations.

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Update: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 3:00 p.m.
RCA Beach continues to be cleaned-up. 40 workers were on the beach this morning. The crew will be back tomorrow. The park's marine ecologist is on site to ensure the clean-up does not cause additional damage to park resources.

Palomarin Beach was inspected this morning and no oil was found. Park staff plan to conduct a more thorough review at low tide this afternoon.

Harvesting of oysters from Drakes Estero was closed on Friday, November 9 at 5:30 PM due to the potential impact from the Cosco Busan oil spill. The closure was extended on November 11 at 1:00 a.m. due to 0.8 inch rainfall in a 24-hour period. Outer Schooner Bay and the remainder of the estero will remain closed at least until November 14 at 1:00 a.m., and inner Schooner Bay will remain closed at least through November 18 at 1:00 a.m. due to the rainfall closure. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, Drakes Bay Oyster Company, and California Department of Health Services personnel inspected Drakes Estero today and no oil was found.

Drakes Estero is open to the public.

Approximately, three oiled birds have been recovered today--two were deceased. Not all beach surveys have reported back. Park staff are locating oiled birds reported near the elephant seal colony and one other location.

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Update: Tuesday, November 13, 2007 9:00 a.m.
RCA and Palomarin Beaches remain closed as a contractor continues clean up work. They have completed about 25% as of yesterday.

The Palomarin Beach closure is under review — no oil was found there but as a precaution it was closed in case oil moved north. Palomarin Beach may be opened later today or tomorrow.

All other park beaches and Drakes Estero are open.

Approximately 100 oiled birds have been discovered at Point Reyes National Seashore since Friday, November 9. Ten dead birds and no live birds were collected by park staff yesterday, November 12.

Scheduled surveys at PORE today
1. No bird surveys are needed at Point Reyes today by park staff; park managers do not expect significant numbers today.
2. Beach Watch will be surveying Drakes East and Agate Beach.
3. The California Department of Fish & Game's Office of Spill Prevention and Response will be picking up oiled or dead birds at all of Limantour and all of Drakes
4. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be surveying Stormy Stack today for common murres and will spot check the Point Reyes Headlands.
4. No marine mammal surveys in Point Reyes are scheduled today, but the Superintendent schedueled park staff to assist marine mammal surveys in San Francisco Bay at numerous sites

No oil reports on Limantour, Great Beach, Tomales Bay, Drakes Estero. Drakes Beach West had a few small (dime sized) globs.

No marine mammals or snowy plovers are known to have affected by the oil spill at Point Reyes.

The park's Fire Management Officer is still at the Incident Command Post at Treasure Island. Park staff, the California Department of Fish & Game's Office of Spill Prevention and Response, and volunteers have continued to ensure the Seashore has maximum care and protection.

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Update: Monday, November 12, 2007 noon
Marin County staff reported that the oil aerial surveillance flight this morning indicated no oil sheens or oil slick off Bolinas, no oil spotted in lower Drakes Bay, and no oil on beaches north of RCA Beach. Park staff on-site this morning have not found oil on Palomarin, Drakes, or Limantour Beaches. Marin County staff and park staff agree booming of Drakes Estero is not needed at this time because any threat is minimal.

Clean-up crews are still on-site at RCA Beach to remove tar balls.

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Update: Monday, November 12, 2007 10:30 a.m.
A contractor crew will be at RCA and Agate Beaches this morning to clean-up tar balls. A crew of 25 will be on the beaches with a law enforcement park ranger.

Surveys at Point Reyes National Seashore beaches are scheduled for today.

Palomarin Beach, RCA Beach, and Drakes Estero remain closed to the public.

The Park's Chief Ranger is still the park's lead for the oil spill response. Law enforcement Rangers will continue to monitor beaches for tar balls. The Park's Fire Management Officer and Natural Resources Chief continue to monitor activities on-site at the Command Center at Treasure Island.

No booming activities will occur at Drakes and Limantour Estero--boom efforts failed due to strong currents at the mouth of the esteros. No oil has been seen at the mouth of the esteros. Winds are predicted to be from the northwest today and oil is predicted to move south.

Media interest is still high. The Park's Public Information Officer is coordinating with Incident Command Team at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Other activities are being coordinated with Golden Gate National Recreation Area and San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

Park staff, County staff, contractors, and volunteer efforts have been incredible--we had over 50 employees and volunteers responding each day since the spill occurred. All park divisions have responded when needed. A special thanks to everyone who has helped with the oil spill response.

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Update: Sunday, November 11, 2007 11:00 a.m.
Approximately 30 live oiled birds have been found on park beaches so far--Drakes, Limantour, Wildcat. California Department of Fish and Game worked with park staff to retrieve these oiled birds and they have been transported to the Oil Wildlife Care Network in Fairfield. Three live oiled birds were found on Limantour Beach today.

Park biologists, park rangers, and volunteers are monitoring Limantour, Palomarin, RCA, Agate, Wildcat, and Great Beaches for oil and oiled birds. Some very small globules of oil have been found on Drakes Beach. Limantour was found to be clean of oil this morning. RCA and Agate Beach have a "fairly significant number" of globules of oil. RCA and Palomarin Beaches were temporarily closed today.

The Limantour Estero Boom (1500 feet+) was installed yesterday, but failed last night. A new cable will be installed today and the boom re-established. In Drakes Estero, because of the strong current, a limited set of baffles booms will be installed today. Approximately 2,500 feet of boom is on site at Drakes Estero.

Winds are from the northwest today. Thus, movement of oil is predicted to head south away from Point Reyes.

A contract crew is on site at Bolinas Lagoon to install additional boom structures.

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Update: Saturday, November 10, 2007 4:15 p.m.
No oil has yet to reach Point Reyes National Seashore beaches and no beaches are closed.

Park staff have placed a boom across the entrance to Limantour Estero as of today and are working on placing an additional boom across Drakes Estero.

Park staff have been sent to assist at Stinson Beach which is closed.

A total of three oiled birds were found on Limantour Beach yesterday, six were picked up today at Limantour Beach, and two from Drakes Beach. They are being transported by Wildcare volunteers to rehabilitation areas.

Individuals interested in volunteering should contact the Oiled Wildlife Care Network.

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Update: Friday, November 9, 2007 5:30 p.m.
Point Reyes National Seashore will be placing a containment boom at the entrance of Drakes and Limantour Esteros on Saturday. Approximately 5,000 feet of boom will be deployed in two different locations.

A few oil birds have been found in the Point Reyes area.

Some oil has been located off Double Point. Oil has been seen off Stinson Beach and Bolinas Lagoon.

Incident Command Team is still in place. The Park's Chief Ranger is IC Lead.

No park beaches are closed at this time. Park staff will be checking park beaches early Saturday morning.

Contact park dispatch if you have any questions (415-464-5170). Please do not pick up oiled birds. Incidents should be reported to park dispatch.

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Update: Thursday, November 8, 2007 2:40 p.m. PST
At 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, November 7, an outbound container ship, the Cosco Busan, struck a pier of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, spilling approximately 58,000 gallons of fuel oil into San Francisco Bay. Between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m., oil landed on the shores of Alcatraz Island and several beaches throughout the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. This is the largest oil spill in the San Francisco Bay since the Cape Mohican incident in 1996.

At Point Reyes National Seashore, we have established an Incident Command Team and the Park's Chief Ranger is the Incident Commander. The Park's Fire Management Officer is our liason with Incident Command in San Francisco. As of 1:00 p.m. today (November 8), no oil had been found on park beaches. Park biologists, law enforcement staff, and others have swept beaches basically all day. However, park staff are preparing for oil to reach beaches tomorrow. If oil does reach Palomarin, Drakes, or Limatour Beaches, these areas will be closed to the public.

Park management is informing all staff and the public that they do not want anyone to pick up oil or oiled birds. If you locate an oiled bird or a glob of oil within Point Reyes National Seashore, please report it to the Point Reyes National Seashore Dispatch office at 415-464-5170.

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Did You Know?

Humpback whale spout

Marine biologists have identified nearly a third of all known marine mammal species in the waters surrounding Point Reyes. Blue whales and humpback whales feed here during spring and summer months. Gray whales migrate past our shores twice a year on their round trip from Alaska to Baja. More...