2011 August 30
Gulf of Mexico
We flew today to find whale sharks, so that scientists who were out there in a boat could fit them with tags that would report their gps positions and ultimately tell us more about them. The seas were utterly calm, like glass. The bait balls were glistening everywhere as we flew to open seas south of Grand Isle about 100 miles. We were so optimistic! Alas, in over six hours of flying covering almost 600 miles, not a one was found today. Nor a single sperm whale. We found two huge pods of bottlenose dolphin, one with over 100 individuals, another with at least 75. And a couple of fine leatherback sea turtles. But between those sightings -- and sometimes uncomfortably close to them, all we found was what we are so very tired of seeing -- more and more OIL.
In fact, we found so much oil out in the Macondo Prospect (near the site of the April 2010 explosion), that we have an 11-minute video of it that never covers the same area twice! Not since last summer have we seen this kind of expansive surface sheen. Metallic-gray and rainbow swirls stretched for miles, mixed with dark-brown stuff that resembled weathered crude more than sargassum weed. And there were those round-shaped 'globs' of oil again, here, there, and everywhere it seemed. We did not want to see this stuff anymore!
NOTE: Unless noted, no photos or video provided by On Wings Of Care are "photoshopped" or otherwise altered in any way that could degrade accurate interpretation of what we observed.
We notified two ships about this large area of oil today, and we gave them the gps coordinates where it could be found (waypoint #9175 below: N28° 53.426', W088° 11.022'). The first was the NOAA "Okeanos Explorer", who seemingly unbeknownst to them, was cruising alongside and then right through a line of those oily globs. The second was the "Sarah Bordelon", who told us they were sampling the oil for BP. (Can BP say it's not there when they have a ship out there sampling it?) We also reported it to the NRC after we landed, who of course reports it to the US Coast Guard (our report was incident #987845). This area is about 16.5 statute miles northeast of the site of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe last year (MC252: N28°44.20', W088°23.23' per Wikipedia).
So while we had fulfilled our civic duty, we didn't feel like we had done much good. What about the three bottlenose dolphins that we filmed swimming into the oil because there was no way around that huge slick? We watched as they slowed, then disappeared and never came up again. They were going to have to hold their breaths a long while and head in exactly the right direction to make it out of that stuff. We watched for well over five minutes but never saw them again.
Folks, we don't know what else we can do to help.
We spoke with the NOAA scientists by email after the flight. They are using sophisticated sonar systems to look at gas bubbles rising through the water column in that area. They have mapped out what they believe to be natural seeps in the area of the Macondo site. Gas bubbles usually dissolve before reaching the surface, long before then. But they've been finding some much closer to the surface, and they suspect the reason is that they're coated with oil. First question I had was, does that mean the use of dispersants greatly added to this likely coating process, and that therefore we now have much more undissolved natural gas nearer the surface? I think that scientists are not allowed to answer questions that hint at "policy" questions like that, though. Bummer. In my idealistic college days, I thought that science would guide policy. How did business get that job instead? Sorry, I'm not supposed to editorialize here.
Here's that long video of the big oil patch out there today.
Photographs follow; more to come later.
The flight log as I wrote it on my lap in the plane is transcribed below.
You can get all of our waypoint gps coordinates and times by downloading the Garmin .gpx file, from the main menu item "Flight Tracks".
We'll try to spell some of them out for you in an update to this article a bit later, to save you some trouble.
I feel like I should say "Sorry" rather than "Enjoy"! But you can enjoy having the facts, at least.
Many thanks to Terese Collins and Don Abrams for riding along today and helping document all of this! I promised them whale sharks and Hubig Pies. At least they got the pies!
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FLIGHT LOG 20110820 Gulf of Mexico - OnWingsOfCare flight
SE of Grand Isle: Lots of bait balls! very calm seas. pod of dolphins. GREAT water visibility.
9153: 1025 CDT. Organic 'lace' line
9154: line of old sargassum.
9155: ship "British Emisary". TONS of jellyfish, everywhere!
9156: rig + 2 supply boats. Rig = "Noble Jim Day". w ship = Dionne Ch..rt (?).
Lots of sargassum patties.
(9157= pre-set for NaKika)
9158: Line of white foam, S-N-NE.
9159: oil 'globs', x 7.
9160: major line of green algae, foam, and sargassum
9161: Olympic Chellenger boat plus platform with red legs (LLOG-Opti-Ex) and two supply boats.
9162: Leatherback turtle and jellyfish everywhere (109 nm on 150 deg mag radial from KNEW).
9163: Black areas , subsurface plumes? (no clouds in sky!) Oily smell? (not clean sea smell, for sure).
9164: Long line of sargassum patties, lots of them.
9165: two very wide sargasum mats and lines
9166: "Sweet Water" ship - full of containers
9167: NOAA Okeana Explorer vessel. Oil globs near their starboard stern -- now a long line of them! Tried to hail them on the marine radio, asked about whale sharks (they said they had seen none), asked if they knew they were heading for that line of oil globules, but reception was bad.
9168: More oil globs
9169: More oil globs, plumes, sheen.
9170: >100 dolphins!
9171: 1250 CDT. Fishing boat, buoys.
9172: Oil globs
9173: Oil globs
9174, 9175: Lone lines of oil and sheen, some weathered crude or sargassum too? (Reported position of 9175 to the Sarah Bordelon at 1345 CDT. They were sampling oil globs for BP.)
(9174 = N28° 53895', W088° 10.986')
9175= N28° 53.426', W088° 11.022'. We later reported this also to the NOAA vessel at 1400 CDT, and when we landed to the NRC. Incident #987845, per Petty Officer Layman (Lehman?). Called NRC at 202-267-2675.
9177: Still videoing oil! NE-SW >10 nm, about 4 nm wide. geez, ugly! 3 dolphin were swimming into it, we watched them get very slow, then disappear. never saw them again. oh yuk, but even we couldn't see a way around it for them.
9179: oil slick, small
9180: oil slick, small
9181: >75 dolphins!
9182: oil globs and Sarah Bordelon - sampling water out their starboard side. Reported the 9175 coordinates to them, they told us they had seen no whale sharks. What was in all those containers on their boat? They said they were sampling the oil globs for BP. (So how come BP says there are none out there??)
9183: Normand Pacific
9184: Na Kika rig "MC447A - BP".
(9185 - preset to MC109 Amberjack rig)
9186: Leatherback turtle, big one!
9187: 5 schools of cobia and LOTS of bait balls again!
9188: At Amberjack rig, two boats and 3 mooring buoys
9189: Boat and old rig/platform. "LNPW3"9190: Long E-W line - marsh grass? As in ~10 nm long!
"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.”