Isla Vista Memorial Paddle-Out Anniversary Marred By Refugio Oil Spill

A dying pelican struck by the Refugio State Beach oil spill expresses solidarity with the Isla Vista memorial paddle-out by donning a Hawai’ian lei.

The first year anniversary of the UCSB Surf Team’s Isla VIsta Memorial Paddle-Out, which took place Saturday evening on the beach below Manzanita Village, faced severe setbacks in the aftermath of last week’s oil spill on Refugio State Beach. Following a pipeline rupture which leaked hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil, organizers and participants alike braved the contaminated waters only to be marred by enormous chunks of tar and stained with greasy black waves. “I admit it was a little hard to focus on forming a circle in the water and even harder to listen to the memorial speakers,” said McKenzie Wayne, who paid her respects for the 2014 tragedy from her housemate’s inflatable raft. “And I got so much tar stuck in my hair that I had to leave it in. But I’ve decided I’m just gonna grow dreads now, so I guess everything is a blessing in a disguise.” Fourth-year environmental studies major Dan Allegro commented that the frequency of maimed pelicans and floating deceased fish was “pretty disturbing.” He also expressed his concern about the health and safety of his fellow Gauchos, some of whom were in the water in only bikinis or swim trunks for up to three hours. Despite these unfortunate impediments, UCSB Surf Team coordinator Ricky Umberto was satisfied with the outcome of the anniversary paddle-out. “The oil spill tragedy couldn’t be avoided for us to properly commemorate last year’s tragedy in our traditional Isla Vista fashion. It just goes to show the lengths to which Isla Vistans will go and the hardships they will endure for the sake of coming together as a community.” When asked to comment on the event, 58 year-old Tom Lonardo, one of the crew members working to clean the beach and its waters, seemed uninformed about its mission, and asked, “Why are they surfing right now?! And why are they polluting the water more with all these flowers and bouquets?!?” Lonardo said the clean-up did not come to a halt during the paddle-out on Saturday evening, noting that he managed with difficulty to navigate several students on stand-up paddle boards and inflatable rafts while deserately trying to offset the catastrophic effects of the oil spill.