HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) — A spill of more than 127,000 gallons of oil could irreversibly injure protected wetlands and ecological reserves in Huntington Beach.
Orange County's fourth most-populous city is home to a number of environmentally-sensitive sites, including the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and the Talbert Marsh. This weekend's oil spill forced California Department of Fish & Wildlife officials to deploy booms in order to try to keep oil out of those fragile wetlands.
"At this time, we have pre-assigned and deployed boom at seven locally sensitive sites," Fish & Wildlife's Lt. Christian Corbo said. "Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, Lower Newport Reserve, Talbert Marsh are some of the examples."
TIMELINE: Huntington Beach Oil Spill
Fish & Wildlife is currently assessing how many personnel will be needed and what methods will be used to protect these sites.
Images show at least two booms have been placed in Talbert Marsh, but the oil plume had already gone beyond the first boom and was approaching the second. The area is home to about 90 bird species and is used as a rest stop during migrations from the Arctic to South America.
Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve is a 1,300-acre preserve with more than 200 avian species right alongside Pacific Coast Highway and some of Huntington Beach's most popular beaches. It's considered to be one of the top birding spots in the nation, but its direct connection to the Pacific Ocean puts it in danger.
At least four oiled birds have been recovered so far, but a brown pelican had to be euthanized. Dolphins have also been spotted swimming through oil-slicked ocean waters. The Bolsa Chica Conservancy says oiled wildlife can be reported to 877-823-6926. The group is also accepting donations for the Pacific Marine Mammal Center
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