(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) — An oil sheen showed up in the Pacific Ocean, leaving officials baffled as to what caused it.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department responded to strong smells of gas just before 10 a.m. Wednesday at Goleta Beach and quickly found a large sheen of what appeared to be oil in the ocean, captain David Zaniboni said.
Two kayakers came in from the water with their legs and kayaks covered in the film soon after the crews arrived.
The Coast Guard flew over the sheen in a helicopter yesterday afternoon and determined it covered two square miles, Coast Guard spokeswoman Andrea Anderson told ABC News Thursday.
Zaniboni said the oil sheen is just natural seepage that will eventually spread out and dissipate, however, the Coast Guard isn’t certain that’s the case.
“Right now we can’t confirm that’s what it is. We can’t tie it to natural seepage in any definitive way, so we’re still investigating,” Anderson said.
There is a Venoco Oil pipeline in the area, but there have not been any recent incidents at their facilities, ABC station KABC reported.
The film layer is too thin for crews to attempt to remove it from the water, so its size and location will continue to be monitored, according to Anderson.
The Coast Guard, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Environmental Protection Agency were all called to the beach, Zaniboni said.
This incident is about 20 miles up the coastline from Refugio State Beach, where thousands of gallons of crude oil spilled from a broken pipeline into the Pacific Ocean on May 19.
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