John & Anne Wiley


Spill Watercolors

Filed under: Flying,Has Photos,Nature,People,Random,SB Region — John @ 22:26

A comment on yesterday’s Edhat post of my pix showing the aftermath of the May 19, 2015 Refugio oil spill got me thinking. I’d been looking for aerials from about the same angle and time of day taken before the spill, to compare with the black water color I’m seeing now. The commenter suggested comparing Google maps satellite views, but it can be difficult to determine the date those were taken and of course the angle is always pretty much straight down (from space). So I looked at it with Google Earth which tells you the image date and allows for adjusting the point of view to replicate what my aerials show. To some extent at least, because the 3D effect in gEarth is a rather pale comparison to reality. Anyway, here’s what I came up with showing my aerial on top and gEarth below it.

2797 Ellwood Oil

2797 Ellwood Oil

The oil in the water is quite obvious to me, compared with the sandy water below that has a bit of pulverized kelp and probably some natural seep oil mixed in. The color difference in the deeper water is because my camera actually was at the angle shown and thus reflecting some sunlight from the surface and the water column (the satellite is looking pretty much straight down). Here’s the same sort of thing, looking at the western beach along El Capitan.

2835 El Capitan Oil

2835 El Capitan Oil

Because there’s less reflection from the surface, the oil there shows up much more clearly in my aerial pic. Of course the vegetation in these pix differs considerably from what it was in the January sat views, but I’ve tried to approximate the water colors. It will be interesting to see how the spill evolves over time, but hopefully we’ll see the oil gradually dissipate and marine life return to normal.


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