SANTA MONICA—Days after an unknown tar substance floated onto South Bay beaches, authorities re-opened 7-miles of beaches on May 29, shortly after 6 p.m.

Santa Monica Beach
Residents walk on an oil slicked beach after the spill. Photo courtesy of the Santa Monica Fire Department.

Closures affected almost all of South Bay, from El Segundo to Redondo. During the closure, the public was unable to access the beach from the lifeguard towers to the water. The area behind the lifeguard towers remained open. Officials urged beachgoers to stay away from the tar, as contact could cause skin irritation. Today more tar was found in Malibu’s Zuma Beach.

The cause of the oily, tar substance is still unknown, but it amounted to about three garbage truckloads of tar. The oil was first spotted Wednesday morning, and washed ashore by 10 a.m. The US Coast Guard is reportedly testing the substances from both South Bay and Malibu. It tested positive for slight volatile organic compound and is flammable. Standby clean-up crews were also on call in case any more tar washed ashore.

Tests are currently being run to see if the tar substance is related to the oil spill near Santa Barbara on May 19. About 21,000 gallons of oil spilled into Refugio Beach, around 10 miles from Santa Barbara.

Tests are also being run to see if the tar balls occurred naturally. Southern California beaches often have oil washing ashore from passing ships and from natural oil seeps on the ocean floor.

A tar-covered loon was found Thursday and brought to rescue teams. No other wildlife has been reported harmed. If any oiled wildlife is found authorities are asking residents to call 877-623-6926.