Tar balls, oiled birds, and months of cleanup on California’s beaches

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As the oil spill spread across Orange County, an aerial view of Laguna Beach Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.  | Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Coastal communities are still reeling from a recent oil spill off Southern California that coated shorelines and marine life in black tar. Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency after a pipeline ruptured late last week, unleashing an oil slick spanning 8,320 acres on waters near some of California’s most iconic beaches. Officials are still investigating the cause of the spill but think that a cargo ship’s anchor might have snagged and tore through the pipeline, the Los Angeles Times reports.

It could take months to assess and clean up some of the mess, and longer for ecosystems to recover. To learn more about what to expect, The Verge spoke with Steve Murawski, a fisheries biologist and marine ecologist at the University of…

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