The captain of a whale-watching boat, on an extended trip to show passengers a pod of blue whales, captured a “tragic” sight off the San Diego coast.
Captain Domenic Biagini, via a Facebook post of the travel agency Gone Whale Watching San Diego, said his ship encountered a “giant” layer of oil covering part of the ocean. At least a dozen dolphins appeared on video swimming in the area in drone footage Biagini filmed and attached to his post.
“The most tragic thing I have ever filmed: a pod of dolphins swimming through a giant oil spill,” Biagini wrote in the Sunday post.
After receiving reports of an oil burst about 11 miles northwest of Point Loma around 10:30 a.m. on June 19, the U.S. Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter crew to assess the area. They checked a shard 3 miles long and half a mile wide, according to a press release from the USCG.
The glow had been present since the day before, the report said, according to a statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA added that the USCG had not requested its support in investigating the report.
Biagini said in his post that he reported the outburst he saw to NOAA, Coast Guard and EPA, and that the oil covered “over 50 miles” of ocean.
About 80 minutes later, at 11:50 a.m. Saturday, a second burst was reported 14 miles off San Clemente Island. A Navy ship in the area could not confirm the outburst at that time, and neither could a USCG helicopter on Tuesday afternoon, the Coast Guard said.
The shine is believed to be caused by an unknown petroleum product, such as diesel fuel, according to the USCG. Coast Guard pollution response personnel reported that the fuel that caused the chandelier was unrecoverable and would dissipate naturally.
The USCG said it has been coordinating with the US Navy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Fish and Wildlife Service and California Department of Fish and Wildlife since Saturday to investigate the cause of the outburst.
“The Coast Guard takes all reports of pollution of the marine environment seriously,” said Lt. Ryan Szabo, head of the incident management division of the USCG sector in San Diego. “We thank all responsible citizens who reported these environmental concerns in a timely manner. “
The cause of the reflections remains under investigation.