Oil rigs’ future, turning rigs into reefs, Lake Death Valley, Charles Darwin in California, Huge fossil discovery in LA

Marine Policy

What to do with California’s dying oil rigs?

Credit: Los Angeles Times

A magnificent multimedia story by the Los Angeles Times looks at the fate of the Holly oil platform off the coast of Southern California. Oil rigs have long been a source of controversy in California, especially following the January 28, 1969 oil spill near Santa Barbara, which gushed 80,000 barrels of oil into the ocean. The spill led California, and then Congress, to enact numerous measures to stop the development of new platforms in local and federal waters. A 2015 spill at Holly essentially shut the platform down, and now the state must wrestle with what to do with it. Pull it out? Turn it into an artificial reef? Interestingly, the platform is said to have inspired the Doors’ Jim Morrison to write “The Crystal Ship.”

Los Angeles Times

Marine Science

Turning oil rigs into reefs

On a related note, it turns out that many of the oil rigs off the California coast harbor an unusual diversity and abundance of biological life. Milton Love, a marine biologist at the University of California Santa Barbara, has done several studies of the rigs off the coast and published several papers documenting their extremely high productivity.

A current California law allows oil companies to turn rigs into reefs, but no company has so far taken the steps to do so, largely because the rigs are still producing oil. Maybe, this will hasten the movement to do so.



The (temporary) Lake of Death Valley

Credit: Petapixel

The recent rains across the state have not only helped refill water-starved reservoirs, but they also have led to a few astonishing sights: like a 10-mile wide lake in Death Valley. Petapixel published a series of incredible photos of this rare event. They were taken by fine art landscape and seascape photographer Elliot McGucken.


History of Science

Charles Darwin in California

Credit: Huntington Library

Although he never paid a visit to the Golden State, Charles Darwin is very much present right here in Southern California. Many people are probably unaware that the Huntington Library houses an impressive collection of Darwin artifacts, including what is likely the last known portrait of the Father of Evolution. The Mohr Darwin Collection holds nearly 1,700 publications by and about Charles Darwin and his circle. The collection continues to grow, in fact. In February 2018, the library acquired 19 original prints, offering a fascinating glimpse into the intimate Darwin family circle.

Huntington Library


LA’s Pleistocene revealed in recent discovery

Credit: Courthouse News

An astonishingly rich trove of fossils has been discovered by crews tunneling a new branch of the Los Angeles subway. The discovery includes more than 500 fossils of Ice Age animals, including saber-toothed cats, giant ground sloths and huge mammoths. The fossils show up at around 15 feet, according to paleontologist Cassidy Sharp. The fossils were found at stations along the Metro’s Purple Line around La Brea Avenue, Fairfax Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard.

Courthouse News

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