Oil from a leak that a drone photographer spotted two weeks ago near Platform Holly is confirmed to be from a natural seep, said Eric Laughlin, a spokesperson for California Fish & Wildlife. The sample “was consistent with Monterey Shale, so the sheen was from natural seepage,” he stated.
Environmental documentary filmmaker Steven Gute had spotted the rainbow sheen near the platform on December 10, and his hackles went up. Though he lives in Los Angeles, he frequently comes to Santa Barbara to surf and was appalled to think another oil spill might be occurring. However, the area surrounding Holly is known for its natural seeps, geochemists and environmentalists said of the find at the time.
Laughlin said their chemists were able to differentiate the sample’s biomarkers, as oil from natural seeps degrades differently from oil pulled freshly from a well.