Expect the ecological recovery from the Huntington Beach oil spill to be "very uneven," Steve Murawski, a fisheries biologist and marine ecologist at the University of South Florida, told The Guardian.
Murawski, who has spent years studying the effects of the much larger 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, explained that birds and marine mammals will be among the species hardest hit by the incident in the short term. That's especially true for animals that pass through California's coastal wetlands, where oil can get buried "below the level of the sediments" and remain there "pretty much forever." Birds are particularly vulnerable, The Guardian notes, because coming into contact with even just a small amount of oil can destroy their feathers' ability to insulate them, which can lead to hypothermia and starvation.
Other species could struggle too, Murawski said, singling out abalone, which have a long lifespan, grow slowly, and can't get out of the way. The news is better for small sea creatures like plankton, however, since they have a fast life cycle. So, even if they take an immediate hit, they'll be more likely to bounce back. Read more at The Guardian.