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2012 April 12 Thursday
Gulf of Mexico

Today was supposed to be a simple reconnaissance mission and practice flight with scientist colleague Dr. Ian MacDonald from Florida State University in Tallahassee and some new photographic equipment we're going to be using in our aircraft. But its routine nature changed when word spread last night of a significant new oil slick in an area about 70 miles due south of the tip of the "crow's foot" of Louisiana, between the Mars and Ursa oil production platforms.  Shell Corporation announced that they were sending oil spill cleanup crews and equipment to the site. Dread and despair was the response of many including our own. So that destination was added to our flight plan.  And since that's probably what some of you are most eager to read about, we'll start our report with that one.  The rest of the report will show the Taylor Energy slick (still!), many smaller slicks encountered on our way northward back to the mainland, an ugly slick in Breton Sound (before we even made it out of the muddy Mississippi waters!), and various vessels and platforms of interest in the Macondo area and elsewhere.

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Here is a map of the waypoints correlating with the photos and video from today's flight:

20120412-GPSMap

The oil slick between the Mars and Ursa oil platforms are between the waypoints numbered 0227 and 0228.  
The NOAA vessel Okeanos Explorer was studying the Biloxi Dome today at waypoint numbered 0223.  The strange sargassum we photographed today was at waypoints numbered 0221 and 0222.  The Taylor Energy slick was at waypoint number 0220.  Several slicks on our way back to the mainland were seen, and by then we didn't even bother to photograph them all.  (It's a terrible thing to become numb to pollution.)  Some that we did photograph were associated with platforms in the vicinities of waypoints numbered 0229 and 0230.  Waypoint number 0218, right next to Louisiana's eastern coastal wetlands, was one of those typical ugly linear slicks that is found regularly near oil platforms, this one about three-quarters of a mile long and 30 ft wide.

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For many more photos, videos, and information, see the full article here!