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2015 March 19
10 miles from coastal Louisiana

Gulf of Mexico


Today marked our 60th flyover since July of 2011 of this tragic ongoing pollution site that has been pouring oil and gas into the shallow coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico barely 10 miles from Louisiana’s marshes and wetlands.  The site is commonly referred to as the “Taylor Energy” slick, for the company whose oil production platform was toppled in a mudslide caused by Hurricane Ivan in September of 2004.  That mudslide buried more than 25 associated pipelines under at least 100 feet of mud, and the seafloor has been weeping oil and gas ever since.  For more than ten years running, here in the Mississippi Canyon Lease Block 20 (“MC20”), oil and gas have been bubbling up to the surface from 500 ft below and spreading out in sickening tentacles as long as 15 miles, in directions that change depending on sea currents.

This flight was scheduled deliberately to coincide with overpasses by the radar imaging satellite RadarSat2 as well as NOAA and NASA visible satellites  EO-1 and ASTER.  On board with us was colleague Dr. Oscar Garcia from Florida State University, who is a scientific expert in the use of remote sensing to characterize marine oil slicks and also a seasoned authority on recent pollution at this site.
 

In the photos and video, you'll see the sheen at MC20, of course, and the unusual and dramatic large patterns of turbidity. You'll also see the brave and highly endangered community of Delacroix, one of the very last communities to hang on to its survival as the wetlands vanish from around it. Each time we fly, we see the waters rising and the land disappearing from around this once thriving bayou community. It is chilling to watch this unfortunate history in the making.

But maybe there's a little good news, too.  We did finally see roseate spoonbills over the wetlands!  Only a few of them, but the first family of these beautiful birds that we've seen since late in 2010.  May they find what they need and return to Louisiana!

Read the full article and see all of the photos and videos here.

(And stay tuned here for another article to be published soon, which describes the history of this MC20 pollution site, including actions taken to date by the US Coast Guard (USCG), Taylor Energy, and others to try to contain and arrest the pollution, and the controversial assessments to date of just how much oil and gas has been and still is pouring into these coastal waters.)