2012 June 29, Friday
Gulf of Mexico
UPDATE 2012 Jul 13 -- VIDEOS added! (whale sharks, rays, and sargassum -- see below, above the photo galleries)
The season for whale sharks in the Gulf of Mexico has begun! Finding them was our highest priority after returning from finding and flying for whales and sea turtles off of Cape Cod, and biologists from Louisiana and Mississippi were more than ready for us to to find them so that they could fit them with satellite tags. Tropical Storm Debby had just passed, and the previous week's wild seas had calmed to near glass, so we wasted no time. The only problem was, unlike previous summers, there have been no sightings reported by fishermen or oil platform workers. Not a one. So where would we start the search?
Trying to be as scientific about this as possible, we combined all of our sightings from the past two years with the biologists' data on locations of sightings in the past ten years, and from them we made a "statistically optimum" flight path. That path took us first to the Ewing Bank area, about 160 miles south-southwest of New Orleans, then eastward along the shelf about 75 miles, northeastward almost to Sackett Bank, then back to the Mars and Ursa platforms to catch up with some of the biologists who were there working with tuna, to tell them of our findings -- and very excitedly, as we had lots to report! Near Ewing Bank a pod of about 35 dolphins, then ten whale sharks all in close proximity, and later, about 50 miles eastward, ten short-finned pilot whales including several mother-calf pairs! We also saw two large manta rays on our way back to shore.
On the whole, we still see woefully little marine life out there, at least compared to what we had seen in June and July the past two years and what we have heard about from others prior to that. So these sightings seemed a huge relief to us, and to the marine biologists. Time will tell the state of health of these populations and of the fish and plankton they need in order to survive. The chain of life needs all of its links, so it's likely that the problems we've all seen and heard about with shrimp, herring, red fish, and other marine life is affecting the Gulf's population of marine mammals and sharks and tuna as well.
Here are maps of our recon flight which successfully found these animals. Our flight log, giving locations, times, and more information about sightings, is transcribed at the bottom of this article. Our GPS flight tracks for today can be downloaded under the Main Menu item "Flight Tracks" by following directions given there. And last but not least, our favorite photos and videos from today are given in the galleries below. Our favorites from the galleries are given just below before the galleries -- first dolphins, then whale sharks, then the pilot whales, and finally lots and lots of sargassum. Photos of the ships and platforms mentioned in the Flight Log will be posted soon.
Enjoy! And if there are any photos which you'd like to see more of or in higher resolution, just contact us and we'll be happy to share. Photos and videos from today's flight are courtesy of Don Abrams and Brayton Matthews! And, as always, we thank the business Flightline First of New Orleans' Lakefront Airport for their ongoing tremendous support of our work to benefit the Gulf by offering us reduced prices on aviation fuel, aircraft storage, and maintenance services.
DOLPHINS - Favorite Photos:
WHALE SHARKS - Favorite Photos:
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PILOT WHALES - Favorite Photos:
SARGASSUM - Favorite Photos:
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Here's a cool video of some of the golden (cownose) rays we saw on our way back to the mainland:
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Here are more photos as promised:
***********FLIGHT LOG for 20120629 OWOC Gulf Flight to find Whale Sharks ***************
On Wings Of Care Flight Log for 2012069, Friday
SEARCH for WHALE SHARKS in the GULF of MEXICO
Ewing Bank eastward to Mars/Ursa platforms
All waypoint numbers below refer to the GPS tracks shown in today's article at OnWingsOfCare.org.
Times are given in CDT.
Lat/lons are given in degrees and decimal minutes.
Aircraft: N4784E Bonny Schumaker with Don Abrams and Brayton Matthews as spotters, photographers, and videoraphers.
Equipment: Canon 200x and Sony HD video cameras.
Seas and weather: Seas 1-2 ft, clear, 5-10 kt winds from the east-southeast.
Visibility excellent, sea clarity excellent. One of the finest viewing days ever!
The following waypoints were pre-set for this flight, based on whale-shark sightings in the areas between Ewing Bank and the Innovator platform in June and July of 2011. No sightings had been reported yet this year in this area of the Gulf. So our planned route took us first to the Ewing Bank area, and to past sighting waypoints labeled WS6, WS2, and WS1-2011. Then eastward to three other previous sighting locations from 2011: WS8, WS4, and WS4, all fairly close to the Innovator platform. The map of these targets as well as the waypoints identified during our flight are shown in today's article. Then we went to the Mars/Ursa platform area to rendezvous with biologists who were eagerly waiting to hear of our findings. We will guide them tomorrow to the successful sighting locations to help them try to put satellite tags on some of the whale sharks.
WS6. N28 8.7' W090 53.9'
WS2. N28 0.5' W091 1.5'
WS1-2011. N27 56.18' W091 1'
WS8. N27 58.27' W089 41.4'
WS4. N28 13.2' W089 39.1'
WS7. N28 15.26' W089 38'
The rigs in these areas of interest are noted below, for the record.
Innovator: N28 13.230 W89 36.900
Medusa: N28 23.554 W089 27.21
Mars: N28 10.171 W089 13.373
Ursa: N28 9.242 W089 6.213
0321. 1236 CDT. N28 59.294 W90 31.587
A "family" of small platforms just off shore. The narrow island shoreline had gas platforms within two miles of it inland as well. Not pretty! Nightmares of what could happen to the barrier islands if drilling were permitted there.
0322. 1246 CDT. N28 42.027 W90 38.463
Beautiful long lines of sargassum in the green-blue water, calm as glass.
0323. 1258 CDT. N28 22.306 W90 46.886
***0324. 1305 CDT. N28 09.803 W90 53.365
A tightly-grouped pod of about 35 dolphins! The first life we saw. Otherwise, no birds, no bait balls, no flying fish, nothing.
***0325. 1311 CDT. N28 05.672 W90 57.988
WHALE SHARKS! Four, then we saw another, and another, and finally another. Making 7. They were about 3 nm south of a large stationary (by sea anchor) fishing boat. On our second trip by this point, within a half-mile of it, we saw three more whale sharks, for a total of 10.
0326. 1325 CDT. N27 56.546 W91 01.652
Platform not far from the whale sharks, "ATP". Older, but not abandoned, as there were supplies and barrels on it.
0327. 1345 CDT. N28 05.926 W90 57.942
Platform, helicopter on the helipad (new paint on that helipad!). "SS358"
0328. 1405 CDT. N28 03.200 W90 32.470
Platform, "W&T Offshore."
0329. 1412 CDT. N27 59.661 W90 19.368
0330. 1418 CDT. N27 59.360 W90 08.904
Tall white boat, not typical supply boat. What type?
0331. 1418 CDT. N27 59.542 W90 07.929
Typical supply boat.
***0332. 1427 CDT. N27 59.240 W89 51.948
WHALES!!!! 5 + 4 + 2. At least two pairs of mother-calves (so the total number might be greater than 11). (Thought at the time that these were small sperm whales, as we have seen those here in the Gulf previously. Learned later that these are short-finned pilot whales!)
0333. 1440 CDT. N27 58.128 W89 42.172
0334. 1456 CDT. N28 13.867 W89 40.226
Orange-hulled ship, white bridge.
0335. 1456 CDT. N28 13.560 W89 41.145
OIL? Definitely an oil smell, and the sheen was in stripes. West of Innovator platform, within a few miles (slightly more than 3).
0336. 1500 CDT. N28 16.410 W89 37.986
Blue-Green water line, with sargassum in it, very long line west-east.
MEDUSA platform: Was flaring!
0337. 1512 CDT. N28 11.166 W89 20.218
Line of sheen?
0338. 1515 CDT. N28 10.044 W89 14.474
Drill ship, and Jennifer's boat next to it. (Mars and Ursa platforms nearby.)
0339. 1525 CDT. N28 20.342 W89 18.144
Very small buoy. Meteorological sensor? No identifying features on it.
0340. 1542 CDT. N28 43.505 W89 26.797
Two large rays, one small turtle (dove before we could identify type).
"The Story of Pellie Lou - a Pelican who survived the Gulf of Mexico oil spill"
by Bonny L. Schumaker, Ph.D.
With 46 photos from the Gulf of Mexico.
ALL proceeds go to benefit Gulf wildlife!
Order your autographed hard copies or an electronic copy here!
Read about our rescues under Rescue Tails!
Here are some samples:
A Dog Named Pepper Doesn't Give up Easily on Life!
20130428 - This 15-yr-old deaf, blind, arthritic senior held out in a hot, dry, desert parking lot until love finally found him!
CHAZ - No Ordinary Extraordinary Cur!
20130422 - Left to die but instead, this super-intelligent deep-hearted dog discovered love, family, and even fun -- from the most unlikely mentors!
Turbulent Trails for Tails from TX-20130413
Six rescue dogs from east Texas find forever homes in Nevada and California!
Who was rescued, and who was the rescuer? Anyone who has known this kind of bond has felt something so deep, so real, so ancient, that it cannot be described with words. These bonds ground us and free us from pettiness in our lives. Thank you Sheba. Rest in peace.
A Letter From Your Admirers! 20121231
This was a last-minute challenge that seemed beyond even our own grandest heroic imaginings. But it turned out not to be beyond the devoted hearts and energies of about 30 rescuers, shelter staff, volunteers, and families working together. Forty-three (yes, 43!) dogs in one day, from dead-ends in a Porterville shelter to homes and real lives with real humans who love and want them. Rescuers ROCK!
Orphaned very young, left alone and hungry til her fur fell out and her skin was covered with mange. Thanks to some big-hearted Texas rescuers, not only did she recover, she found the family who wanted to love her forever. How glad we were to be able to give this little pup with the big paws the ride to the rest of her life!
20121205-Blackie Goes Home at Last, and Taylor Turns Texan!
Four long months since Blackie's lifelong human companion and partner Tammy suffered a serious injury from a passing truck and disappeared from his life. Suddenly Blackie was in a shelter kennel, and Tammy fought for her life as she dreamed of her beloved dog. Thanks to many people, both of these souls survived to find each other again! This was a rescue and a reunion we'll never forget.
The same rains that made us work "On WHEELS Of Care" this week kept us grounded for this trip, which serendipitously combined the transport of Skip northward and the joyful and miraculous reunion of Miss T'Chen, who had been rescued and taken to Illinois after Hurricane Isaac, with her family in Baton Rouge!
This flight went almost as planned, and our plane was filled to over-flowing on every leg. And we met some wonderful new cat and dog rescues in Idaho and Oregon!
20 Lucky rescued dogs flown to homes in Canada!
2012 Sep 22
It turned out to a journey full of unexpected challenges, but these 20 lucky lovable canines who had been through the worst of times in California were just the best through it all, and now they are warming the hearts and laps and lives of some very lucky Canadian families!
Spindletop Scandal and the Search for Scarlett
2012 July 17 - present
With pitbull-like tenacity, we wouldn't take "NO" for an answer. Out of 21 dogs we sought, we have closure on all but two. Alas, one of those two is our Scarlett.
Tale of seven cities, six cats, and five goats!
2012 July 16
Who knows if the pleas for help brought the plane, or vice-versa.
But when serendipity puts this much together, there's no saying no!
Homeless Mom and Pups no More!
2012 July 08
Sometimes rescuers find the IDEAL person to adopt that animal in need ...
themselves! And in the process, a hole gets filled for the entire family.
This lucky mom now lives with Bear, Sheba, and Dave!
From Empty Nest to Love Fest!
2012 May 11
That last urgent plea came for the five orphaned pups ...
but what about the two large senior boys who would probably never get adopted?
Some people are just angels, meant to be who they are and where they are.
Check out these two and their new happy pack!
JEREMIAH has come home to us!
UPDATE 2012 July 7!
2012 January 13
His adopter called to say she had become ill, and could we care for Jeremiah? You bet we could. We rented a plane and flew to Arizona and retrieved him immediately. Jeremiah was indeed a true friend, and we aim to be his true friends, too. He has been eating like crazy and slept his stress away for the first few days, and now he's acting like a young dog again. Read more here!
CHAMP found at the airport!
2012 January 01
A sad, scared but dignified young Champ quickly won the hearts of everyone who met him at the New Orleans airport, and within two days we had permission from his original breeders to give him to a young couple with a younger female boxer mix, all of whom fell totally in love with him at first sight! Champ and Miss Princess are leading the good life now, and Champ's new dad finally has the fishing buddy he wanted! They tell us we made their dreams come true. We think they made Champ's come true, too.
Abby & Dinozo -- Two of a Kind!
2011 September--2012 January
Orphaned brother and sister, rescued and adored until calamity struck and they lost their family. Orphaned again, these gentle gems and perfect canine citizens found love and adventure with us until we found them their true forever home! Abby & Dinozo came with us to Washington January 7, and they were welcomed warmly and immediately into a home. Read more here!
Yo! Get a Load of Yolo!
2011 November--2012 January
Left in the cold, high in the mountains of southern California, life was over before it had barely begun for this orphan teenager.
Little did he know, his adventures had only begun! As of January 7, it's back to snow but this time with a family who adores him, and lots of fun and play in the Pacific Northwest!
Saving Scarlett -- Love Forever at Last!
Found on the streets, teats full but puppies absent, a battle-torn very hungry pitbull.
Hardly that sought-after doggie in the window.
But after we brought Miss Scarlett home to love and food, warmth and stuffed animals,
we discovered a warm heart and sweet spirit that changed us forever.
2011 July--September 29, A Joyful Reunion At Last!
Here they are during their flight with four other dogs Sep 29 (New Orleans to Oakland, CA, fuel stop in Roswell, NM).
And here's a photo from the happiest reunion ever!
More photos and updated videos here!
Sheba-Cosette - this lovely lady waited a lifetime!
Jeremiah - a true friend finds a new lease on life!
Two Giant Dogs & three cats reunited with their family on Whidbey Island, WA
Chihuahuas "Betty" & "JellyBean" fly to their rescue in Bremerton, WA!
New Year's Rescue: 33 dogs & cats are flown to rescue in the Pacific Northwest!
Hounds fending for themselves for years in Alabama fly to rescue in Arizona!
Romo & Stanley are flown to safe havens in Arizona!
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico - 2013
2013 Apr 12 - Mayflower, AR Pipeline Spill
2013 Apr 02 - Bayou Corne #6
2013 Mar 23 - IMMS Marine Mammals
2013 Mar 19 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#5
2013 Feb 15 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#4
2013 Jan 26 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#3
2012 Dec 24 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#2
2012 Nov 08 - Tar Sands and Texas
2012 Aug 30 - Hurricane Isaac Conquered
2012 Aug 28 - Hurricane Isaac Arrives!
2012 Aug 13 - Sinkhole in Bayou Corne, LA
2012 Jun 13-Dispersant Spraying Exercise off LA
2012 April - Chronicles of the Endeavor
2012 Dec 10 - How Dilute is Dilute Enough?
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico - 2012
Sat Nov 17 - Platform Explosion
Wed Nov 14 - Barrier Islands 1
Sat Nov 10 - OIL
Fri Nov 09 - OIL
Sat Oct 06 - Whale Sharks
Fri Oct 05 - OIL
Fri Sep 14 - OIL
Sun Sep 09 - Hurricane Isaac
Sun Aug 12 - Whale Sharks
Wed Jul 11 - Whales & More
Fri Jun 29 - Whale Sharks & More
Dominica - The Nature Island!
On Wings Of Care flies to the Eastern Caribbean for whales and sea turtles!
Read more here!
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico - 2011
Sperm Whales & Whale Sharks:
Cape Cod, MA
Our Gift for YOU for 2011!
Click Here to Smile
from your heart, out!
Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf, 2010
Galapagos Veterinary Support
Galapagos vets do much with little,
thanks to true friends who shipped a TON of supplies and meds from the U.S. in June, 2011.
“Man can no longer live for himself alone. We must realize that all life is valuable and that we are united to all life. From this knowledge comes our spiritual relationship with the universe.”