In the anguished days immediately following the first great leak from Union Oil Company's well in Santa Barbara Channel, scientists warned that animal and plant life in and around the affected waters might be permanently damaged. In retrospect, their dire predictions seem to have been overstated.
A study conducted by a team of University of California researchers discloses that the initial fears were exaggerated.
As one researcher says: "The most serious problem is an esthetic one. It just looks terrible."
When the well first blew out, the problem was certainly serious. Hundreds of birds died in the sepia goo. Lobsters, clams, mussels,...