Black, Sticky Blobs Wash Onto San Diego Beaches

What oceanic experts call a “natural phenomenon” is catching locals by surprise at San Diego beaches.

Alberto Michan, who has lived near La Jolla Shores for 27 years, told NBC 7 he never saw anything like the sticky, black and oily blobs he came across during his morning run Monday.

“First I thought it was a marine something, then I picked it up and smelled it. It was sticky and had a bad smell,” he remembered. “They were all over the place. They were from all the way from the beach and tennis club to the pier and even north of that.”

Professor Neil Driscoll with Scripps Institution of Oceanography said the black oil balls are evidence of a natural oil seep from the ocean floor.

“We have seeps here in California where oil comes from the sea floor, and it’s buoyant so it rises to the sea surface, and at the sea surface, it degrades and becomes tar,” he said.

Driscoll assured us that, as far as they know, this substance is not harmful to humans or marine life, as long as it’s not ingested. He said natural oil seeps are uncommon in San Diego, but they do happen. More beachgoers see this natural phenomenon in areas like Santa Barbara, Gaviota and Ventura.

This news is a relief for Michan. Driscoll said he’s happy to hear of the concern because it means residents care about the well-being of our local marine life.

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