No, it shouldn’t be surprising. Disappointing and distressing, but not surprising.
Since my article two days ago about a 4-mile-wide, 21,000-gallon oil spill near Santa Barbara, CA, the numbers have proven to be grossly understated. Estimates changed throughout the day, pinning the disastrous oil spill at 9 miles wide–the forgotten, damaged pipeline instead releasing 105,000 gallons of crude oil into an otherwise pristine coastline of the Pacific Ocean.
My article from two days ago. Please give it a read . . .
Again, please DO NOT turn a blind eye to the decisions being made by big oil and gas companies and the politicians and other entities that support them, decisions that are destroying our environment and permanently impacting the stability of our delicate ecosystem. SLOW DOWN and TAKE SOME TIME to GET INFORMED about what is happening right under your nose, under your feet, and in your own back yard . . . before it’s too late (and especially if you feel it’s already too late . . . your voice can and should be heard!).
Today, due to the callous neglect demonstrated by Plains All American Pipeline, a filthy, 4-mile-wide oil spill now coats every form of animal, bird, and sea life that exists in the already struggling, now permanently altered, environment west of Santa Barbara.
Today, and every day moving forward for quite some time to come, my friends and I will no longer be able to walk along this beautiful oceanfront area, or bring our dogs to one of the few remaining nearby beaches that still allows dogs to enjoy the surf.
Today, and in the foreseeable future, no longer will we be able to enjoy the spell-binding tidepools, sea caves, and reefs at the hugely popular beach-access campground at Leo Carillo State Park.
(Leo Carillo State Park also happens to be a favorite of the entertainment industry who used the beach for movie and TV show scenes, including scenes from the movie Grease. As the lyrics of a Frankie Valley song written for that movie suggest, maybe GREASE really IS the word–at least it is now at Leo Carillo State Park and nearby areas.)
One quote from the May 19, 2015, oil-spill article:
“With accidents and oil development, it is not a question of if, but of when.”
Take a look at the oil disasters of the last decade alone, and you’ll know this is the God’s honest TRUTH.
Another quote from the article:
” . . . the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management said the broken pipe operated by Plains All American Pipeline had been abandoned some time ago. He couldn’t say when, and noted, “I guess there was still some product in there.””
YA THINK? Now, 21,000 GALLONS of CRUDE OIL have made it to the pristine shoreline west of Santa Barbara not far from where I’ve lived for the past 4 years. The spill extends 4 miles wide now in the ocean. THIS IS WHERE WE CAMP EVERY YEAR!!!! Now, it is all but destroyed and will likely KILL many of the ENDANGERED SPECIES of magnificent WHALES and other rare sea and shoreline life that exists in this area.
I AM SADDENED BEYOND MEASURE. I DON’T CARE WHAT THESE OIL & GAS COMPANIES CLAIM, THEY ARE DESTROYING OUR REMAINING BEAUTIFUL PLACES & KILLING ALL ITS LIFE FORMS ON A DAILY BASIS.
GREED is so POWERFUL that it DEFIES ALL LOGIC and leads men in power to RISK EVERYTHING for a FISTFUL of MONEY.
DON’T LISTEN TO THE LIES. DON’T WAIT UNTIL IT HAPPENS IN **YOUR** BACKYARD. TAKE A STAND TODAY. PLEASE.
The cost of this country’s dependency on oil outweighs the benefits. And our next-in-line reliance on natural gas is just as costly. Oil spills are inevitable, as is the fact that spills destroy critical natural resources that we rely on for our very existence. And the flat-out reckless procedures used when fracking for natural gas lead to dramatically increased earthquake activity and toxic–often flammable–water in our aquifers, our main source of drinking water. The misguided ongoing quest for more oil and more gas is literally poisoning the planet and the human race.
PLEASE DO NOT SUPPORT THE ADDITION OF ANY MORE OIL PIPELINES IN THIS COUNTRY OR ANY NEW OFF-SHORE DRILLING SITES OR ANY NEW NATURAL-GAS-INDUSTRY FRACKING SITES!!
FORCE THE INDUSTRY TO PROMOTE AND PROVIDE SAFER & CLEANER ALTERNATIVES!
IF YOU DON’T HELP SHIFT THIS NATION’S THINKING AWAY FROM WHAT NO LONGER IS WORKING TO SOMETHING THAT WILL (WITHOUT DESTROYING OUR PLANET in the process), IT’LL BE THE DEATH OF US ALL.
Please DO NOT turn a blind eye to the decisions being made by big oil and gas companies and the politicians and other entities that support them. SLOW DOWN and TAKE SOME TIME to GET INFORMED about what is happening right under your nose, under your feet, and in your own back yard . . . before it’s too late.
Another interesting read about a potential leak scenario with Keystone 1 Pipeline . . .
There aren’t many places you can go and be guaranteed you’ll see a rainbow. In Maui, they’re easily viewable. The camera doesn’t lie.
A coat of brilliant colors.
The nearby bushes seem to mimic the tree’s colors.
A forest of rainbows.
These are Maui’s stunning Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees. We saw them in a few locations on the way to Hana on Hana Highway. For quick and easy viewing, you can’t miss them on the left side of Hana Highway as you make your way south to Hana. There is a lovely grove that catches your attention. Do yourself a favor and stop. We did. We even felt compelled to hug one of the trees.
ASIDE: In all honesty, we were stunned and disappointed to see that people had carved graffiti into the tree trunks. It’s a sin in my book that these beautiful living trees were tortured for a while so someone’s ego could be stroked for a lifetime. Is that really the mark we’d like to leave for all time?–that we successfully destroyed something beautiful? Please respect nature, folks. When it’s gone, it’s gone, and no amount of wishing and magic can bring it back.
See other recent posts related to my trip to Maui, Hawaii:
I recently interviewed for a blogging job with a nature-based nonprofit foundation. The director of the nonprofit sat and talked with me for two hours about his fascination with nature, especially a recent trip he and his wife had made to the Monarch Butterfly Grove near Pismo Beach, California. The couple was intrigued by the migration of monarch butterflies in and concerned about the decline of California monarch butterfly populations. Inspired by a recent viewing of the IMAX 3D film called “Flight of the Butterflies” at the California Science Center, they found themselves immediately embarking on a two-and-a-half-hour road trip north of Los Angeles to see the monarchs for themselves. The director was a decent wildlife photographer and showed me a half dozen photos of the monarchs that annually overcome the area like a biblical plague. (Photos included here are not his, but mine, except where noted.)
When the director of this nonprofit first showed me a photocopy of his photos from the trip, I wondered, Where are the thousands of butterflies? In some photos, all I saw were pictures of dull, densely leaved trees; in others, some close-up shots of the monarchs and their caterpillars. I felt foolish at first, but on closer examination, the butterflies crystallized into view. The director mentioned later in our conversation that when it comes to natural wonders, it’s common for people to not see what is right in front of them.
After our meeting was over, I searched the internet and found a video of the migratory monarchs. They were clustered en masse on eucalyptus and pine trees, their beautiful orange wings flickering like blinking lights on an early Christmas tree. I felt a rush of emotion at the wonder of it, and even wiped a tear or two from my eyes. Admittedly, nature does that to me. So, I, too, set out with a camera to a migratory site along the California coast north of Los Angeles. I’m so glad I did.
I didn’t make it all the way up to Pismo Beach, which seems to garner the title of the “best spot to see monarchs” but there are plenty of other locations to witness the California monarch butterfly migration, albeit with smaller populations. At these less-populated sites, it might take a bit of patience and self-education to locate monarchs, but it’s still pretty darn cool when you find them. Even though the butterflies are draped from the trees in clear view, depending on the temperature and cloud cover, instead of bright shades of orange, folks may see what I did in the photo: the underside of wings colored a dull yellow-brown that make the butterflies look like dead leaves on autumn trees. They are clustered together on branches of eucalyptus keeping warm while waiting for the sun, at which point they will take flight in search of water. The fact that they sometimes look like dying autumn leaves strikes me as apropos because monarchs arrive at Pismo and much of the central and southern California coast in late October each year. Those that travel to Mexico for overwintering tend to arrive between October 31 and November 2, coinciding with All Hallows Eve, All Souls Day, and All Saints Day respectively. To the Mexican community, the monarchs symbolize the annual return of the dearly departed, a joyous and reverent time of year.
Whether it is in California or in Central Mexico, overwintering monarchs will not make it out of their winter location alive. Instead, after four months of near dormancy, they will become active, feeding and mating until they die. It is their offspring that will make the trip back north in the spring. Each spring and summertime generation of offspring will have a short lifespan—as short as two to six weeks—continuing the mating, dying and propagating cycle as each successive generation makes its way further and further north. Once the colder fall weather creeps in, the migratory cycle starts all over again.
California’s monarchs will only be in the area until about March, at the latest. By then, their caterpillar offspring will have eaten through the surface of their eggs, gorged themselves on milkweed plants, and will have emerged from their chrysalises ready to head back north.
Migration of Monarch Butterflies and the Decline in California Monarch Butterfly Populations
Monarch Butterfly Grove boasts the highest overwintering monarch population in the United States, but it is not the only destination of monarchs in North America. In fact, monarchs that reside west of the Rocky Mountains tend to overwinter in coastal California, while monarchs residing east of the Rocky Mountains tend to overwinter in Michoacán, Central Mexico. There are exceptions to these rules but overall, there are two primary population sets in the United States. Monarchs can start their trip from as far north as Canada, but the butterflies destined for Mexico (some 2,500 miles from southeastern Canada) represent the bulk of the migratory butterfly population. Several hundred million monarchs arrive in Mexico each year, though the numbers are dwindling. Those destined for the California coast once topped out at 230,000 in the 1990’s but now run only in the tens of thousands.
What’s So Great About California?
So, what exactly lures monarchs to the California coast? Is it the warm California sun? The superior dining options? The Beach Boys music playing off in the distance?
The warm California sun has a lot to do with it. Monarchs need to escape freezing weather but they are content to winter in slightly above-freezing temperatures. They also require water for drinking but need to be protected from the elements. Coastal California fits the bill for warmer winter temperatures and a marine layer that provides just enough dew and moisture to make monarchs happy. The areas that monarchs like best are those that have plenty of eucalyptus trees to hang out on all winter and plenty of milkweed plants to lay their eggs on in the spring. Milkweed is the one and only food source monarch caterpillars like to consume. The consumption of milkweed makes monarchs poisonous to eat, which is key to keeping their predators away and allowing monarchs to survive and thrive.
What’s NOT So Great About California?
There is so much that is not known about monarchs and their migration patterns that pinpointing the reason(s) for a decline in California monarch butterfly populations becomes an exercise in speculation. Some of the culprits likely to influence the monarch population are:
–Urbanization, human overpopulation, and the misuse and overuse of natural resources
–Changing weather patterns
–The overuse of pesticides affecting food sources and water sources
Random weather events can have a catastrophic effect on the monarch population as well. In 2002, a bad winter storm in Mexico caused the death of so many monarchs that some forest floors were almost two-foot thick with dead butterflies. Logging activities in Mexico have impacted the population as well. And in the United States, urban and suburban sprawl threatens populations by overtaking natural habitats—homes, buildings, and highways are popping up more than dandelions in a spring field.
As interconnected as the earth’s ecosystem is, there are too many factors to definitively say what is causing the fluctuation of population even in just one little area. But if you live anywhere along the coast of California on up to Canada and love the gift of seeing the monarchs each year, there is something you can do to be part of the solution rather than the problem.
What Can You Do To Encourage The Butterflies To Stay?
Whether the monarchs are in California for a temporary visit or are considering making it their permanent home, coastal Californians can extend their hospitality by sprucing up the accommodations:
–The most immediate and effective thing you can do to ensure the survival of monarch butterflies is to plant as much milkweed as you can. It is a critical food source for monarch caterpillars, so make room on your property for milkweed. Plant it, or at least resist the temptation to cut it down. Remember, if there is no milkweed, monarchs will not have a place to deposit their eggs.
–Plant pine, cypress, and eucalyptus trees on your property. Monarchs tend to overwinter in groves with these particular trees.
–Natural Landscaping: Nothing says “I love you, Mother Earth” more than using natural landscaping on your property vs. overusing pesticides and over-manicuring. Reconsider your use of weed killers. Nature has graced us with plants and weeds that serve an important purpose in the food chain. When planning out your garden, try to use plants indigenous to the area. Do your part to help the ecosystem do what it does naturally.
–Less is more—less square footage to live in, that is. Instead of being part of the urban or suburban sprawl where building bigger and bigger houses and patios and living spaces is the norm, why not downsize or at least resist the desire to takeover more natural habitats? Humans and nature are in a battle for resources and humans are winning. Use what you need but leave the rest. Try totilt the scale in favor of nature.
With just a little consideration for nature and preparation for one of its most fascinating annual miracles on the California coast, maybe next year, the monarchs will come to your home to visit YOU! In the meantime, if you live in the area, be sure to visit the Monarch Butterfly Grove between November and February. Admission is free!
Check out the following links for more information related to the migration of monarch butterflies and the decline in California monarch butterfly populations:
·MonarchButterfly.org has great information on the Monarch Butterfly Grove near Pismo Beach, including population counts and the primary viewing locations all along the west coast of the United States: http://www.monarchbutterfly.org/