2013 April 22
Devore Animal Shelter, San Bernardino County, California

“Chaz” was dropped off at Devore Animal Shelter in San Bernardino by his owners on March 12, 2013.  They said they wanted him killed ("put to sleep") because they had to move to a place where they couldn’t have him. Fortunately for Chaz, the shelter staff decided that wasn’t what Chaz needed or wanted, so they decided to hold him for the required five days until they could legally release him for adoption.

The shelter called Chaz a 10-year-old neutered male red shepherd mix.  Well, they were right about the neutered male part. Now, about six weeks later, he looks years younger and much healthier than he did when we pulled him from the shelter.  We see some very fine “black-mouthed cur” with maybe bits of shepherd and chow in him.  Most of all, we see now a strong and handsome, quiet, gentlemanly dog with a huge heart, and a dog who has let go of his heavy heart and is becoming a joyful, happy, secure canine family member.

Staff in the shelter said that Chaz had never showed any aggression toward them or other dogs and was a quiet, well-mannered dog. But each progressive day in the shelter had left him more and more visibly on edge, and he had begun showing wariness toward the male staff.  By Friday March 15, the shelter labeled him “Rescue Only - Behavior observed. Available 3/17.” This was tantamount to a death-sentence -- first because it limited his options to a small number of county-authorized registered 501(c)(3) rescue organizations, and second because he would have to be pulled by Sunday or early Monday, or he would likely be euthanized by Monday night. In just five short days since entering the shelter, Chaz’s prospects for life had gone from bright to slim indeed.

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Read about the amazing changes in Chaz and see all the photos here!  

UPDATE 2013 March - Maggie May turns 3 years old!

On 2010 May 14, almost three years ago, On Wings Of  Care flew a tiny, quiet, sweet-natured ball of fur from Westside German Shepherd Rescue in Los Angeles, CA to her fur-ever home in Mesa, AZ.  These kind people had picked her out from photos and given her what would be her forever name -- Maggie May.  

We like to stay in touch with the families to whom we have transported or adopted animals, and Maggie May was no different. A few weeks ago we received photos and a video of Maggie May's third birthday!  Look at this lovely adult dog now!  She still has the sweet, super-intelligent face and big brown eyes.  And those adorable floppy ears!

Here are photos of then, and now.  And a video of her receiving one of her presents.

Watch the video and see her original story here.

2013 April 12 Friday
Mayflower, Arkansas

Two weeks ago ExxonMobil's Pegasus Pipeline burst into the backyards of a neighborhood in Mayflower, AR, a beautiful small town next to Lake Conway and surrounded by other scenic lakes and waterways.  Thousands of gallons of tar-sands oil have since filled the yards, streets, and now it has begun to make its way into nearly Lake Conway.

We flew over the area today, on our way to Texas to give a lift to some rescued dogs who have been fostered for some time and are finally headed to forever homes in Nevada and California. We're still on the road as we write this, so we'll keep it brief, but we wanted to get you today's photos as soon as possible.  The last two days have seen some very strong rainstorms in this area, so we were prepared to see little obvious oil from the air.  But that was not the case at all, as you can see in these photos. Either there's plenty still gushing, or this sticky, thick tar sands stuff is not easily washed away.

Some of our favorite photos are here at the start, with a video that takes you all around this part of Mayflower and the water way immediately to its east, which enters into Lake Conway. Below these is a gallery with more photos.  We have many more photos than are shown here.  As always, we are happy to make available high-resolution versions of these for any non-profit purposes to benefit the public and the environment.

See the rest of the photos and videos here!  

2013 April 02 Tuesday
Gulf of Mexico off of Louisiana

UPDATE (20130420) - "Belly viewer" video of the Taylor Energy slick has now been added!   See below.

For weeks, we had planned to fly the Gulf on Wednesday April 03, in conjunction with a high-altitude flight of NASA's Unmanned Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) and some satellite radar passes, over a long rectangular area that extended from Lake Pontchartrain southeastward to several miles south of the  Macondo area, covering also most of the Taylor Energy site. The gusty thunderstorms here made that impossible, but fortunately we all squeezed in our flights the afternoon of Tuesday Apr 02, even the Gulfstream 3 with the UAVSAR, whose crew had to fly their lines at the end of an already-long commute up from central America. Nearly simultaneous viewing is desired in order to compare what we see visually (half-micron-scale wavelengths) and what the radars see at their meter-scale wavelengths. By understanding the correlated signatures of both visible and radar data, we are able to make more accurate interpretations of data from one or the other data source alone, in searches for oil slicks and sheen.

Read the full article and see all the photos and video here!

2013 April 02 Tuesday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

Our sixth flyover of the Bayou Corne sinkhole since last August revealed a site much worse than we could have imagined last summer. Unlike previously, rainbow sheen now covers virtually the entire visible sinkhole. Many trees on the west side have now disappeared, as has quite a large corner of a dirt work pad at the southeast corner.

While the close-up photos are dramatic, the distant photos that include the community and surroundings are most compelling. In those we see a beautiful, neatly maintained neighborhood of homes in startlingly close proximity to peril.  All around are wetlands and forests of cypress, the uniquely beautiful signature of Louisiana. Who could blame people for settling here and staying for generations on generations? But what now?

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See all the photos and videos here!

2013 March 25

Dear Friends,

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I have received some questions recently about legal aspects of pilots receiving donations,  reimbursements, or other financial benefit such as tax deductions for providing flights to nonprofit organizations in the Gulf of Mexico. I have been a gold-seal certified flight instructor and an airline transport pilot for over 15 years. It is important that we all understand FAA, IRS, and other regulations so that we will be able to continue to fly safely and legally and serve our good missions. The legal consequences for pilots and aircraft owners can be quite serious if these regulations are not followed, including hefty fines and certificate suspension or revocation. So I’d like to take a few minutes here to clarify what these regulations are and how On Wings Of Care (OWOC) works within them.

2013 February 13 & March 12
Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, Gulfport, MS

We’ve learned a great deal from some recent visits to Moby Solangi’s Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (IMMS) in Gulfport, MS. Moby has spent considerable time with us showing us around all of the facilities and answering many questions. Some of our questions arose originally because of a request of us from Moby to help transport two orphan sea lion pups from California to IMMS. Those two young female sea lions -- “K.T.” and “Sage”-- are now safely and happily ensconced at IMMS, thanks to FedEx, a private jet, and much careful work by many. While we did not support the accomplishment of this transport, Moby’s request gave us the opportunity to look closely at IMMS for ourselves and to ask many pointed questions about past, present, and planned activities regarding captive marine mammals at IMMS and elsewhere.

Read the full article and see all ten videos here!  

2013 March 19, Tuesday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

On Wings Of Care'
s fifth flyover of the Assumption Parish sinkhole near Bayou Corne, Louisiana left us hardly optimistic that the good people of those communities will be heading home anytime soon. Their community meeting this evening isn't likely to bring good news from Governor Jindal or Texas Brine, unless good news is that they can expect to have their homes and land purchased. The sinkhole has grown, and rainbow sheen covers much of it. Flares are burning, to vent gas from the area. What was at first amusing is now depressing -- the large open storage tank at the northeast corner of the sinkhole is painted with bold blue lettering that says "Responsible Care: Our Commitment to Sustainability."

Here are a few photos from today.  
For many more, and for three videos, see the full article here.

2013 March 16 Saturday
Gulf of Mexico - Macondo prospect, Taylor Energy, Breton Sound

(Today's Gulf overflight was made possible by donations from the listeners of the radio station ThePowerHour.com. Thank You Joyce Riley and all of your listeners for putting us back in the air to bring you the facts!)

We jumped at another day of clear skies and calm seas to make a quick flight to check on some of the fifteen oil pollution sites we documented and reported from last Friday's flight over the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. We were particularly interested to see the status of the extensive sheen we saw in the Macondo area last Friday. To our surprise, that area looked mostly clear today -- clear of surface oil, and void of life. The water was beautifully calm, even 50 miles off the coast. Plenty calm enough to see sharks and fish who do not need to break the surface. And yet we saw no bait balls, no flying fish, no seabirds hunting, no rays, turtles, sharks, dolphins, whales. Nada; nothing alive was seen along our flight route today.

The Taylor Energy site -- that chronic oil pollution debacle about 12 nm off the coast of Louisiana that has been spewing oil into the Gulf since Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004 -- continues to horrify. We filmed plenty of thick rainbow oil, even some brown weathered crude hanging in a portion of it. The thickest part of the slick has moved a few miles northward from where it typically has been in the past, perhaps due to prevailing strong southerly winds of late. But it's never difficult for us to find it; we usually can spot it more than ten miles away, even on cloudy days.

In addition to the Taylor site, we reported another of what we have seen and reported before and presume to be a natural seep, this one about 12 nm west-southwest of MC252. We also saw and reported a substantial slick (over a mile long) along Louisiana's eastern coast, east of Empire, LA at the south end of California Bay.  These comprised our three NRC reports, detailed below in our Flight Log. Here are a few sample photos.  Many more photos, plus videos, are in the full article.

Read the full article and see all the photos and videos here!

2013 March 13
Bayou Perot, about 30 miles south of New Orleans, LA

Yesterday evening around 6pm (CDT), a tugboat pushing an oil barge struck a gas pipeline in Bayou Perot, a wetlands area about three miles south of Lake Salvador, about 30 miles south-southwest of New Orleans.  Today at 4pm, about 24 hours later, the very charred tugboat and barge are sitting on the bottom in the very shallow water, and there remains a fierce ball of flame and long line of very dark smoke blowing southward in today's 20-mph northwesterly winds.  We took a quick half-hour flight to bring you some up-to-date photos. There is no fire in the surrounding wetlands, and the sheen that extends southward well over a mile looks to be contained and not contaminating the shoreline.  Here are our photos and a video from today, together with a map of our flight track. Our GPS flight tracks for today's flight can be downloaded here.

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See the rest of the photos and video here!  

2013 March 12
Arkansas to Indiana to Maine and home at last!

We wrote last September about helping a wonderful rescued English Shepherd dog named Skip. Skip is no ordinary dog, and he's not cut out to live in just any old climate or join any old family. We thought about him countless times after we met him and transported him to his new foster parent Frank in Indianapolis, for he was one of the most awesome dogs we've met in a long while. And it wasn't just because we had more time to get to know him, since weather made air transport impossible and caused us instead to drive him to Indiana from Arkansas. He was just striking to us in his dignity, gentleness, and general intelligence.

Skip fit in well with his foster parent Frank's pack of sled dogs, and while there Skip learned lots of new lessons, including how to pull sleds, walk as a team, and chase tennis balls and give them back on request. It wasn't long before Skip's forever family found him, and they asked us to fly Skip to their farm home in Maine just after Christmas. Weather and scheduled didn't cooperate, though, and it turned out for the better, as Skip's family drove from Maine to Indiana to retrieve him, and the drive home cemented their forever bond. 

This was a case where many caring, wise people tended Skip as he grew up from puppyhood and became an adult, until finally his forever family appeared. Our hearts have enjoyed earing about this very happy ending for this special dog. So here is the story from where we left it off last September:

Read the full article and see all the photos here!

2013 March 11
Southern California

We wrote two months ago about two little dogs we scooped up from the high-kill animal shelter in Devore, California at the close of their last day and last chance for adoption before being euthanized.  (See "Last but not Left", 2013 January 06.) We named the white poodle-terrier mix Jasmine and the dark-colored one Coco.  Coco was pregnant, but the veterinarian found complications that caused them to recommend spaying her immediately, which we did.  We also had Jasmine spayed. We began networking to find them permanent homes, while in the meantime bringing them back to health with an excellent raw-food diet with supplements.

Jasmine was easy from the start. She smiled constantly. There is no place in the world she'd rather be and nothing else she'd rather do than hang out as near as she can be to her human. Her foster Dave found the right human within the first two weeks, and Jasmine -- now affectionally called "Minnie" -- soon became the happy companion to her forever human companion Teri Jo.  Teri Jo had been wanting a dog like Minnie for companionship to her and her other older white poodle mix "Pearl."  The three of them have been inseparable since the day they met!

Coco seemed like she might be more of a challenge. She seemed happy, and she was perfectly behaved -- quiet, obedient, as nice as could be. But she never quite smiled.  We wanted to see her face light up and her whole body wag with joy! Little did we know how those smiles would finally come to be...

See the full article and photos and videos here

2013 March 08, Friday
Gulf of Mexico

A few weeks ago, our flight over the Gulf showed little of the usual ugly sheen we had been seeing off the southeast coast of Louisiana for the past six months, so we voiced cautious but hopeful optimism. (See "Clearer views and good news for the Gulf?") But today's flight gave us anything but optimism.  We saw pervasive rainbow and gray sheen in many places, including the two chronic pollution sites that have plagued the Gulf for years now -- the Taylor Energy site about 12 nautical miles (nm) off the southern tip of Louisiana, and the Macondo prospect another 50 nm offshore (home to the infamous lease block MC252 and the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe of 2010 April). We have flown more than 500 flight hours in the past three years over these offshore and coastal waters, and the two trends that disturb us most are 1) sources of "unknown sheen" are constant and uniquitous, and 2) the presence of visible marine life has dropped drastically.   After today's flight, we filed 15 NRC reports with the US Coast Guard for significant oil slicks or sheens over our 350-nm route.



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

2013 February 17, Sunday
Mississippi River - Barataria Bay - MC252 - Main Pass

UPDATE:  Video of the Taylor Energy site has been uploaded. Also, another flight on March 08 shows that the clearer views and good news were short-lived!

We took advantage of gorgeous (but windy) weather and reasonably calm seas to check out some areas in the Gulf today. We started along the Mississippi River where there are several targets of local environmental concern: two large (and growing larger) coal terminals and a new natural pass that is feeding the wetlands but is being blocked by a private road being built. We then diverted west to look at Bay Jimmy and Barataria Bay, where oyster and shrimp fishermen have been extremely hard hit.  From there we flew southeastward over the delta, past the Taylor Energy chronic pollution site and out to the MC252 area (gravesite of BP's Deepwater Horizon). The good news is that the large surface sheen we've been seeing in the MC252 area seems to have gone! On our way home, we flew over the Apache Corporation Ensco 87 rig in Main Pass block 295, which was evacuated a couple of days ago because of an upwelling of natural gas.  Between there and New Orleans, we were treated to gorgeous views of Breton Island and the wetlands.  We also saw the first pod of dolphins we've seen between Louisiana and the Macondo in almost a year! A small pod of seven, but heartening to see.

Here are a few "teaser" photos from today.  Many more, with supporting descriptions, are included below. As always, our GPS flight tracks can be download here, and a transcription of our Flight Log is appended at the bottom of this article.

Read the full article and see all of the photos here!  

2013 February 15, Friday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

"That old sinkhole, she ain't what she used to be!"  She's a big bigger.  And uglier.
We grabbed the first day of decent visibility and flying weather to go check this out again, since the latest news was that an additional 5000-square-foot area had just caved in.  There was little activity in the immediate vicinity of the sinkhole; most of the equipment, air boats, and manpower that used to be there have moved farther away. But there is quite a bit of work going on in the land surrounding it.  We're going to let the photos and video speak for themselves today.  Apologies for a video that mght make you feel airsick -- the air was quite turbulent with wind shear at the 1500-2000' level.

See all of the photos and video here!

2013 January 27, Sunday
Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River, Louisiana

Today we had a wonderful treat. Our hard-working colleague and Gulf heroine Trisha James and her husband Mark joined us for a flight over the Gulf! On our way southward, we took a little extra time to check out some spots of concern along the Mississippi River, thanks to an alert from Scott Eustis of the Gulf Restoration Network. So in addition to what we can show you about offshore Louisiana today, you'll see some photos of two large coal terminals along the east bank of the Mississippi, as well as a new pass that the river is building in Bohemia, downriver of where the levee ends. You'll also see a dramatic wetlands fire that surprised us on our return back.

Unfortunately there are still some troubling sites offshore.  The chronic Taylor Energy slick remains a heinous pollution situation, and today's quiet seas revealed that slick to be larger in size than it has looked to us before.  What looks to be a natural seep about 10 miles southwest of the Macondo area, which we discovered last week, remains as it looked last week.  But the most troubling vision today was the Macondo area itself.  The slick that we had first noticed last fall, which was spreading over the area within a half-mile or so of the scene of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, was huge today. It stretched over 7 nautical miles in the south-north direction and was almost a mile wide in some spots. There were some patches of rainbow sheen and even some weathered oil (brownish "mousse"), although overall it remained a light surface sheen.  The ENSCO8502 drilling rig is still working in MC253 there; its presence provides scale in the photos.

Here are a few introductory photos of these sites.  Many more photos, plus a video of the Macondo area, are in the full article below.  Many thanks to Trisha and Mark for coming all the way from Florida to join us today, and to both of them for taking photos and video!

The two large coal piles we examined are the Kinder Morgan International Marine Terminal and United Bulk Coal Terminal.  We are told that there are plans to expand these coal (and pet coke) terminals by nearly 400%, into Plaquemines Parish. Such coal terminals have been stopped in other parts of the country such as the northwest, for environmental protection reasons. Is this a case of Louisiana being willing to sacrifice and take risks that other more cautious states have refused?

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A little farther down the river we checked out a new pass that the river is building in Bohemia, on the east bank, downriver of where the levee ends -- appropriately called Mardi Gras Pass.  This new river is sustaining the wetlands beyond it, and it is also happy home to many otters.  It is threatened, however, by an oil company road that would fill it. That road construction was not exactly impressive, as you'll see in the photos below.

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Before we reached the southern tip of Louisiana, and as we approached the eastern shores, we saw our first significant oil slick. We reported this to the National Response Center as the first of what would be four reports from today; this one was NRC Incident Report #1036761. We'll post a photo of it by tomorrow.

Our first stop offshore was the chronic Taylor Energy slick, barely off the southern tip of Louisiana.  This slick looked larger than we’ve seen it in many months.  The calm seas of the past few days have allowed surface slicks to remain visible, and the spatial extent of this one is shocking. (This was our NRC Incident Report #1036762.)

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As we approached the Macondo area, we first flew a few miles west to see if the new small slick we had seen ther last Sunday remained.  Sure enough, it does, same size and same place.  Perhaps this is a new natural seep? (This was NRC Incident Report #1036760 for today.)

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Arriving at the scene of the 2010 April BP disaster, near the infamous lease block "MC252", we saw the most dramatic and disturbing site of all. This surface slick now stretches more than 7 nm in length south to north and is over a mile wide in many places.  There are patches of rainbow and weathered “mousse” in it as well, which we have not seen out there for many months. (This was NRC Incident Report #1036763, our fourth and final report for today.)

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We returned on a direct path toward New Orleans, over Breton Island and the “city” of platforms in that vicinity.  There were some dramatic marsh fires in the wetlands as we approached New Orleans, one of them adjacent to what looked like an abandoned refinery. We didn't get a great photo of that one, but the second fire, just a bit farther north, seemed to grow before our eyes.

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See all the photos and videos and read the full article here!  

2013 January 26 Saturday
Bayou Corne, Louisiana

Five weeks after our last update of December 24 on the Bayou Corne sinkhole, we are finding that things actually look a bit worse. The water levels seems higher, and the work efforts appear to have subsided. Equipment has been removed, and the homes to the west and northwest of the sinkhole look seriously unpopulated.  The recent seismic activity has people and the government concerned, and evacuees cannot expect to be able to return to their homes or communities any time soon.

The following Google Earth maps of our flight track show the background as it looked long before this sinkhole developed (the image is stamped with "©2013 Google" but the Google image was not taken in 2013!). The blue line is our flight track; each photo is a progressively tighter zoom in.  The third photo of the sinkhole in this group will give you a quick idea of how much the immediate area has changed, and how large a sinkhole has developed where previously there was none. Many more photos plus a video are included below.

Concerned citizens have kept information flowing with Facebook and email, and many have posted regular aerial videos on youtube (see, e.g.this summary of videos between August 2012 and January 2013). Please see ourDecember 24 and August 13 articles also for comparison with our prior photos and videos.

Read the full article and see all of the photos and video here!  

2013 January 20, Sunday
Gulf of Mexico - Offshore Louisiana, from the Chandeleurs to the Macondo 

Everywhere you go along the Gulf Coast, there is awesome natural beauty. Viewed from above, rivers and bayous rule the land mass. Thousands of birds, including huge groups of brown and white pelicans, live and raise their young in the wetlands that separate the Gulf of Mexico from noisy humanity. As beautiful and impressive as the New Orleans skyline and the mighty Mississippi River and its barges and ships are, there is no thrill like flying beyond them, across these grasslands to the open sea.

We fly offshore to find wildlife and to document oil spills and pollution events that threaten the lives of all marine and coastal life. These problems seem to get overlooked to a large degree by humanity, or at least by those with the power to correct the problems. It is a labor of love for us, and it takes every extra penny we have to do it. But the alternative is that fewer people will know of the damage being done and therefore it is less likely to be stopped and corrected. That seems to us an unaffordable shame. We hope that by our sharing what we see with you, you will lend your wisdom and power to help turn the wheels needed to correct these issues.

Since the weather today was spectacular, 100-mile air visibility and seas calmer than we've seen for months, we made a quick decision to go, even though we had no arrangements to fund this flight. Experience has proven that one flight under the right conditions is worth many when weather and lighting are not optimum. One pilot, one photographer, four eyes and unlimited enthusiasm made for great success. We kept close to our plan to check out the surface oil slick in MC253, which we first documented early last fall.  It is within a mile of the site of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010 April, and although neither BP nor the US Coast Guard seem to have any idea of its source or cause, it is causing a very sizable surface oil slick, rivaling the chronic Taylor Energy slick off the southern coast of Louisiana in its size.  A photo of it is on the left below, with the ENSCO 8502 drilling rig about two miles away. (ENSCO 8502 is a deepwater semi-submersible drilling rig built in 2010 and currently leased by LLOG from Nexen Petroleum for $0.5M/day.  It is being used to drill and test up to five wells in the Gulf at about three months per well; activity seen there today suggests flaring is beginning and that they may be completing operations here.)

For comparison, the photo on the right below is the chronic oil pollution site we refer to as "Taylor Energy", named after the owners of the defunct platform destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 along with many broken pipelines which continue to spill fresh and weathered oil into the Gulf at an astonishingly large, continuous flux rate. This nightmare persists barely 12 miles off the southern tip of Louisiana, in "green water" not even a third of a mile deep.

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Many more photos and details are given below on these two sites.  We also documented three other significant amount of surface oil sheen (and of course filed NRC incident reports for these as well):  one which comprised two adjacent slicks in Black Bay off the east coast of Louisiana, one south of the Macondo near a known natural seep in lease block MC294, and one about 15 miles northwest of the Macondo, which also could be from a natural seep, since there were no obvious sources such as platforms or pipelines in the vicinity.

We returned to New Orleans by way of the exquisite Chandeleur Islands -- or rather, what is left of them. How they have changed just in the past two years! For all the damage and changes caused by mankind, it is obvious from the air that storms have also been changing offshore Louisiana markedly. The amount of land surface in the fragile and exquistely beautiful Chandeleur Islands appears to have dropped by 30-50% since the summer of 2010. So has the number of nesting seabirds, and those birds who remain are crowded together very closely. The seas were amazingly calm today.  The waters from the Chandeleurs westward toward the mainland were mirror smooth and gave a haunting appearance as the sun dropped toward the horizon.

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Photos and full descriptions are given below including our Flight Log with descriptions and GPS coordinates for all that we saw. The GPS file of our flight tracks can be downloaded here (or at the main menu item "Flight Tracks" on this website).  We've saved the best photos for last -- the Chandeleurs, and photos of wildlife. Alas, today, we saw little marine life, only an occasional dolphin around the Chandeleurs.  But oh the birds!  Enjoy!

Read the full article and see all the photos here!

2013 January 06, Sunday 
Devore Animal Shelter, San Bernardino County, California

The end of the weekend, the end of the day for adoptions, the end of the line for way, way too many dogs. That is how it is on Sunday afternoon at high-kill animal shelters all over the U.S. That's how it was here at the Devore animal shelter, located at the foot of the San Bernardino mountain range in southern California. Most dogs who enter this place have never had a loving home, good nutrition, a warm bed, or responsible care. What's worse is that many of them never make it out of here alive.

Today was one of those days when we head out to save some lives, not knowing ahead of time whose it will be.  We went to Devore to check out several dogs for whom we thought we had some potential adopters.  When we arrived, we learned that a few of them had been euthanized the night before because they had become too ill. It's not surprising that animals coming into the shelter tend to come down with upper respiratory infections, especially in this cold damp weather and after wandering as strays before before ending up in the shelter.  A few others we had come to check out had been adopted that morning -- joy!  We decided to hang out there to see which dogs would not be adopted by the end of this day, and which of those probably would not be kept alive until the next weekend adoptions.  Sadly, there were many more in that category than we could pull. But today there were two whom we felt sure we could help and for whom we knew we could find good homes.

These two little gals had definitely seen better days, but probably not since they were very young pups with their own mothers. Neither of them had had good nutrition for a long while, let alone a bath or haircut. We're calling the dark one "Coco" and the cream-colored gal "Jasmine." How happy they were to walk outside on leashes and stand in the sunshine on the grass!  But even happier to get home and to sleep on soft, soft bedding in a warm living room, and snuggle on our laps in front of the warm fireplace!

But .... we soon discovered that Coco was pregnant!

See all the photos and read the full article here!  

2013 January 04, Friday
Taylor Energy and MC252 (site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010)

Today we made good use of the first window of good flying weather for southern Louisiana and the Gulf in weeks, and we flew out to check on the chronic oil slicks we have documented in the past -- the chronic leak at the Taylor Energy site just off the southern tip of Louisiana, and the substantial surface sheen that has appeared intermittently in the past couple of years over BP's abandoned wellhead in Mississippi Canyon lease block 252 (MC252) -- the scene of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and environmental disaster of April, 2010.

The past few weeks have seen nonstop wild weather in these parts, ranging from strong gusty cold northerly winds to storms coming up from the southwest, all causing very rough seas, almost daily rainstorms or showers, beautiful displays of clouds from scattered to dark and foreboding, and generally poor flying conditions for aerial viewing of oil slicks on the Gulf of Mexico.  We expected that the strong winds and currents and heavy rains would have prevented surface slicks from holding together, and that therefore the slicks we have reported on so frequently in these two areas would probably be dispersed. (Bad pun, that word, sorry!) However, despite only fair air visibility today and rough seas (4-6 ft waves), these two slicks were impossible to miss.

Taylor Energy: The Taylor Energy slick first appears as a long white line on the horizon, then as a substantial geometric shape on the ocean surface as you approach it, generally oriented southwest to northeast.  Flying directly over it at about 1000' above, even with the rough seas, our small video camera looking out our belly viewer saw lots of rainbow sheen and thick lines of metallic gray oil, inspersed with some deep reddish-brown material -- most likely weathered oil.  Photos and videos of this area are below.  Today, this slick was about 400m wide (NW-SE) and 2 nm long (SW-NE, approximately 035°).  We filed an NRC report after our flight. (Many thanks to Gulf Coast resident Susan Forsyth for her help in getting that submitted promptly!) Many more photos and three videos of the Taylor Energy slick are included below, thanks to the substantial help of Gulf Coast residents and enthusiastic photographers and passengers Terese Collins and Brayton Matthews.  Here are a few sample photos:

MC252 and the Macondo Prospect: The MC252 slick also shows up clearly from a distance. Since the ENSCO 8502 drilling rig has been parked right there for over a month, it's almost impossible to miss the slick these days! There is an obvious discharge from that rig, but the large, well-defined slick to its east is clearly not coming from the ENSCO, but from its own source right there at or very near the abandoned wellhead.  The slick's dimensions are approximately 1.5 nm SW-NE, and 1 nm NW-SE. Within the light sheen, there are many “streamer” lines of shiny metallic-gray clearly visible on the surface.  Many photos and a video are included below.  Here are a few sample photos.

A few other sights of interest are included below as well -- many hundreds of birds gathered together and flying in huge V-formation southward, and some beautiful and intriguing sights in the wetlands and coastal areas.  Photos are included below (or will be by tomorrow!), and locations are given in our flight log.

See all the photos and videos, and read the full article here!  

2012 December 31

We don’t know all of you, but we hear there are millions of you, as there are millions of us.  We are all alive, warm, and fed for now because of you. You never even met us, but from hearing about us or seeing a photograph of us, you understood how we felt and knew what we needed, and you found ways to help us or to help others of you who could help us.  For that we appreciate you and admire you all the more.

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Please read the rest of their letter, and a poem for you too!  Here