San Diego Union-Trib: Those offshore oil rigs are eco-wonderlands. Really.


In the Union-Tribune‘s weekly Quest section, staffer Scott LaFee remarks that for many California beachlovers, the oil platforms offshore of Santa Barbara (of big 1969 oil spill ill repute) are an unforgivable blight.

The Tracker is not among them. Confession: those things, lit up at night, always looked magnificent from the first time I saw them decades ago. I don’t even buy that the oil spill did appreciable, lingering harm.
Thus some solace in this maverick view comes from LaFee’s piece today. As the oil company’s flacks have bleated for many years, trying to paint the rigs green, their understructures provide vigorous oases for fish, molluscs, seaweeds, corals, sponges, shellfish, and lots of other marine life that otherwise would be eking life on a flat seafloor. His theme — whenever it is that the platforms shut down, it might be a good idea to leave their underwater structures in place as artificial reefs.

One scientist, it says here, relocated some fish from their oil platform venues to a more natural, rocky environment around little Anacapa Island. Many of them promptly swam back to their steel girder homes, across more than six miles of open, deep water.

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