The oil sheen discovered last week off of Goleta Beach came from natural seepage in the area, the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed on Monday.

Lab results were conducted after an oil slick about three square miles was spotted off of Goleta Beach on Wednesday.

Whether the source was from oil operations, a spill, or was the result of natural seepage was unclear, but Noozhawk spoke with several experts familiar with seeps in the area who felt that the oil was a result of natural causes.

The samples were sent for cross-testing to a laboratory at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn.

“The lab results yielded that the sheen was a match to the material sampled from known naturally occurring tar balls sampled,” according to Andrea Anderson, U.S. Coast Guard public affairs specialist.

The oil was first reported last Wednesday morning, when Santa Barbara County Fire was dispatched to the area of the Goleta Beach Pier for a smell of oil in the water. A large amount of sheen was spotted in the water, about 1,000 yards off Goleta Beach.

The Coast Guard immediately launched a team from the Marine Safety Detachment in Santa Barbara to investigate, and an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Los Angeles, along with a pollution responder, kept tabs on the sheen during an over flight assessment.

Because the oil was a thin layer across the water, officials said, it would not be possible to recover it from the water, and it was expected to dissipate naturally.

“Coast Guard pollution responders conducted a full investigation of the source, including sampling of tar balls on the beach, obtaining samples of the sheen offshore, and sampling other possible sources such as a nearby platform and vessels that may have been in the area at the time the sheen was reported,” Anderson said.

Dave Valentine, UCSB Professor of Earth Science and Biology, said that local researchers have confirmed that the oil found on the beaches had a chemical signature identical to oil found in local seeps.

Valentine and other scientists have been working over the last decade to research the signatures of local seeps.

UCSB researchers were spotted in white protective suits gathering samples last Wednesday at Goleta Beach, and Valentine said the samples were sent to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute for testing.  

The results came back on Sunday, and can be traced to a seep off of Campus Point, he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at lcooper@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper

— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at lcooper@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.