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Prevent Oil Spills in Our Harbors


Oil pollution is a major problem for ocean ecosystems. It can affect all marine life from the bottom of the ocean to the surface. Pollution decreases the strength and vitality of marine animals by degrading their life support systems and habitat. Unfortunately, use of recreational and commercial boats have a negative impact on marine life. With 28,000 boats in Monterey Bay each year, boat sourced pollution can enter the ocean through accidental oil spills, oily bilge water being pumped overboard, and improper disposal of hazardous waste.

Save Our Shores is dedicated to working with boaters within all harbors of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to reduce the impacts of improperly disposed oil. We strive to keep toxic chemicals out of the ocean by providing free services, tools and information to the boating community via our Dockwalker program.

The hard truth about oil contamination in our oceans

It is estimated that 706 million gallons of waste oil enter the ocean every year, with more than half coming from land drainage and waste disposal. Most of it is from the improper disposal of used motor oil. Americans alone spill about 180 million gallons of oil into the water every year. That is 16 times the amount of oil spilled during the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989!

Offshore oil drilling and spills or leaks from ships typically contribute less than 8 percent of the total. The remainder comes from routine maintenance of ships (nearly 20 percent), hydrocarbon particles from onshore air pollution (about 13 percent), and natural seepage from the seafloor (more than 8 percent).

The oil that ends up in the ocean only stays on the surface of the water for a very short time, and this is the only time it can be properly extracted with oil absorbent pads. These pads are hydrophobic, which means when they are placed on the surface of the water they do not soak up any water, they only soak up the oil. Needless to say, they are great to have on board a boat!

To help us prevent oil spills in our harbors and become a Dockwalker, contact matt(at)

Maps of local facilities to recycle used oil, pump the bilge or pump sewage:

Map Key edited


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