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Photos: Mysterious Oil Globs Force Beach Closures [UPDATE]

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South Bay beaches from El Segundo south to Redondo Beach are closed as crews clean up mysterious oil globs that have washed up on shore.The oil was first spotted offshore on Wednesday morning around 10 a.m. by Los Angeles County lifeguards and began washing onto the beaches around noon. The thick oil globs range from baseball- to football-sized, unlike the slicks usually associated with oil spills. Although these globs are washing ashore just one week after a 21,000 gallons spilled into the water at Refugio State Beach, Heal The Bay says it is far too early to determine whether or not the two incidents are connected.

"[Officials] are investigating all options, including the local refineries, Refugio, and even natural seeps—although it sounds like the natural sources are nearly being ruled out," Heal The Bay staff scientist Sarah Sikich told LAist.According to the L.A. Times, test results are expected today to take "several days" from samples taken from the beaches.

While the Refugio spill has had a noticeably adverse affect on wildlife and the ecosystem, officials are still determining the impact of the South Bay spill and will continue to keep an eye on wildlife through the cleanup. "It's too early to say what the environmental impacts of the oil in the South Bay is," Sikich says. "I have not heard of any visibly oiled wildlife."

"Non-natural oil is definitely threatening to marine life."

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Because the source remains undetermined, it is still too early to assess the size of this spill, though it seems smaller than Refugio. Any estimate for how long the cleanup would take is dependent on whether it keeps washing ashore. "The tide would come in [as crews cleaned up the beach], and there'd be more globs," said Sikich.

Although volunteers are now being accepted to help in the cleanup for the Refugio spill, Sikich says that the South Bay cleanup should be left to the professionals for now. Hazardous waste management training is required to handle the mess. "It's really tempting for people to go down and help with the clean up, but this is definitely something that should be left to the professionals."

Update, 1:15 p.m.: Because no more oil globs have washed up on Thursday, Los Angeles County Health Officials expect the beaches to reopen on Friday morning, according to The Daily Breeze's Carley Dryden:

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