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Some Progress in Search for Cause of Oregon - Washington Coast Black Substance

Published 5/29/24 at 6:45 a.m.
By Andre' Hagestedt, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

(Pacific City, Oregon) – Oregon coast officials are a little closer to determining what is causing the patches of black goo to show up on these beaches, after finds of oil-covered birds and black patches were discovered on the south Washington coast down into Oregon's central coast. The incidents began around March 18. (Photo ODFW)

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Over the weekend, experts were able to at least identify the substance being found, according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's (ODFW) Beth Quillian.

“One new piece of info is that the substance has been determined to be petroleum-based,” Quillian told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “We expect more details from testing next week.”

The actual source of the petroleum blobs is not confirmed yet, although last week US Coast Guard helicopter flyovers discovered an oil sheen about a mile and a half west of Cannon Beach. It did not appear to be moving southward, although it would follow that the pool of dark material began up on the Washington coast and then came southward.

Photo ODFW

Quillian told Oregon Coast Beach Connection there are no updates on this as yet, and no boats were planned to be used.

“Vessels are not being used for this response,” she said. “We do not have an update on the sheen's location at this time.”

Officials in Washington and Oregon have not been able to supply a firm count on how many birds were affected, but it appears upwards of 20. Many went to the Wildlife Center of the North Coast near Astoria and another on the south Washington coast. Some reportedly died before arrival and some died while being cared for.

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Staff at the facility are getting stretched thin and are asking for donations from the public. You can provide direct financial help as well as donations of gloves and towels. See more

Injured birds were found various areas, and the petroleum patches were found in and around Cannon Beach, Nehalem, Lincoln City, Newport and down near Waldport.

Various agencies on the two coastlines are warning the public to not touch them. They are also asking for people to report any finds of oil-covered birds at 1-800-22-BIRDS (1-800-222-4737).

Do not touch the black patches on beaches and keep pets away. Leave those for professionals to clean up. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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