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University Students Study Beach Impacts From Oil Spill

CSUCI Studies Beach Impacts From Oil Spill

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - Environmental Science teams from California State University Channel Islands collected samples from the sand at Gaviota State Beach on Sunday.

This beach is not expected to be affected by Tuesday's oil spill at Refugio Beach, but will serve as as a "healthy" reference site for oiled beaches.

The students dug holes and dumped sand into nets to look for animals such as sand crabs.

Dr. Clare Steel is a lecturer at the university overseeing the students.

"The sand crabs are really at the point where the ocean meets the land. They are in that swash zone where the waves come ashore. They would be directly impacted potentially by any oil washing ashore. It's important that we document their abundance on a healthy beach like Gaviota State Beach and we can compare that to any beaches that are subsequently oiled," Steele said.

The team said this type of research is critical.

"It's really important to do long-term monitoring programs like this to get baseline data, so you can know exactly what the communities are, before a disaster like an oil spill hits. Then, we can study after an oil spill and see what the effects truly are,"  student Tevin Schmitt said.

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