Video: Dolphins Swim Through Fuel Slick Off San Diego

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Published Jun 22, 2021 8:30 PM by The Maritime Executive

A whalewatching outfit in San Diego has released video of dolphins navigating through a giant petroleum slick off San Clemente Island. 

"The most tragic thing I’ve ever filmed: a pod of dolphins swimming through a giant oil spill. The spill is spanning an area covering more than 50 miles, and it is lurking just off the coast of San Diego," wrote Captain Domenic Biagini of Gone Whale Watching San Diego. "We know very little at this time, and we are trying to make these images go viral in hopes of getting some answers as to how this happened."

The slick was located at a well-known whalewatching hotspot off San Clemente Island, he said. A pod of whales that had been in the area the day earlier were gone, and when Biagini headed south, he encountered the oil slick. "Tragic doesn’t begin to cover it. For more than 50 miles the ocean was covered in a thick sheen of oil, a devastating tragedy for the environment," said Biagini. 

The U.S. Coast Guard told the San Diego Union-Tribune that it found a smaller three-nm-long diesel slick at a position roughly 60 nm to the southeast of San Clemente Island, near San Diego's harbor entrance. The light oil is likely to dissipate quickly and is not recoverable, a spokesperson said. 

NOAA informed the Orange County Register on Tuesday that the Coast Guard had found a second slick closer to San Clemente, and the spill is now being monitored.