Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Some surfers at a Malibu surf break were seen using peanut butter to get tar off their feet, as tar balls washed ashore at two Los Angeles County beaches just at Friday’s start of the Fourth of July weekend.

Lifeguards said these were connected to natural seepage from ocean-floor petroleum deposits.

The tar was spotted at Surfrider and Hermosa beaches Thursday, lifeguards said.

“These tar balls are an annual natural occurrence that we experience in Los Angeles County as temperatures rise during the spring and summer months,” said lifeguard Capt. Kenichi Haskett.

Ocean temperatures at Malibu range from 66 to 70 degrees, lifeguards said, which is somewhat warm for this early in the summer.

Earlier this year, beaches in the South Bay were closed for several days when a flotilla of tar balls and “pancakes” washed up. Most were identified as natural seepage byproducts, while some had the same chemical makeup as the 101,000 gallons of raw crude that spilled form a pipeline near Santa Barbara May 19th.

About one-fifth of that oil oozed into the ocean at Refugio Beach, 10 miles west of Santa Barebara, and tar was recovered from 140 miles of beaches, as far south as San Onofre.

Plains All-American Pipeline has expressed deep apologies for the oil spill, which came from a pipeline that had severely corroded on the inside. Loss of that pipe has caused three offshore oil platforms near Santa Barbara to be shut down.

This weekend’s tar has been spotted at Surfrider Beach, the iconic surf spot at Malibu, and Hermosa Beach, north of King Harbor.

“For tar balls located approximately one mile off King Harbor, scientists have confirmed that these substances are coming from a natural seepage from the Pacific Ocean floor,” Haskett said in a news statement.

Two surfers at Surfrider were observed Thursday afternoon with large jars of peanut butter, scrubbing their feet with the substance to remove the tar.

—City News Service

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