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2011 September 07 Wednesday

With blue skies and north winds, we headed out to see what the still-rolling seas had done with the large oil slicks we filmed just one week ago, southeast of New Orleans about 130 miles.  We saw more sediment (?) than usual along the MRGO and near shores.  And we saw multiple surface slicks near platforms in Breton Sound and southward -- such slicks are getting to be common sights.  We were treated to the sight of a very, very large group of birds in flight, just north of Breton Sound...
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.  




Out in the Macondo prospect, seas were still fairly rough (3-5-foot) and clouds there caused poor lighting.  We did not see another massive oil slick like last week, but in its vicinity we did find a consistent (over our three-hour search) surface streamer of metallic-looking sheen, about a mile long and maybe 100 yards wide.  It was easily visible from 10 miles away, as a shiny elongated crescent.  We called in the coordinates of this and the slicks in Breton Sound to the US Coast Guard. (NRC response number:  202-267-2675.  Report numbers #988781 for Breton Sound and #988782 for the Macondo Prospect.)


The rest of our flight was spent documenting some "surf-washing" on the beaches of East Bay (near South Pass) -- a questionable practice of digging up contaminated sediment on the shore side of the island and using a suction dredge to transport it to the surf zone on the Gulf side of the island.  We wondered how long it would take, in hurricane season, for the surf to bring it back in?  On the way back in, we took a careful aerial tour of the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans.  You can read about both of these projects on the Gulf Restoration Network's excellent blog.  


Our complete flight track for today can be downloaded here.  Our transcribed flight log notes are appended below, with the rest of the photos -- including some of your trusty crew, which today consisted of Bonny Schumaker (pilot), Brayton Matthews of Flightline First at Lakefront Airport in New Orleans, and Jonathan Henderson of the Gulf Restoration Network.



Videos and more photos below!


This video shows the brown (sediment-rich?) waters west of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO).

This video shows the large flocks of birds north of Breton Island and west of MRGO.

This video shows Breton Island -- or what is left of it!  Such a shadow of what it looked it like even last summer! 

Leaving the sound and heading to more open water, we see lots of color shades in the water.

First we have ever seen "condo-style" platforms with walkways among them!

Here is the 'crescent of oil' we found on the surface out in the Macondo Prospect today.  By previous sightings, not very dramatic!  But it was persistent (over our three-hour survey), was easily visible from 10 nm away.  And considering that seas have been very rough and rains heavy over the past week, maybe its presence suggests a local origin?

More videos to be uploaded soon!  Here are more photos from today. 

20110907  Wednesday

On Wings Of Care Gulf Flight Log

9191 - 1114 CDT, N29° 56.793', W089° 50.836'.
Dark lines, and many more to the south of here.  Sediment from the Mississippi?

9192 - 1128 CDT, N29° 45.007', W089° 24.381'
Two long lines of metallic sheen.  Southwest to Northeast, about 1 nm log, 200 m wide.

9193 - 1143 CDT, N29° 36.034', W089° 15.238'
Many streaks of surface sheen, checked to confirm that they looked like oil, because there were also many wind rows in the area.

9194 - 1201 CDT, N29° 16.363', W088° 45.228'
Interesting multiple platforms with walkways among them.

9195 - 1222 CDT, N28° 51.935', W088° 09.711'
Definite line of surface sheen, visible from about 10 nm away.  About 0.75 nm long, not wider than about 100 m.  Seas rough (~5 ft), no sign of the large-scale slicks we saw a week ago.

9196 - 1308 CDT, N28° 38.446', W088° 09.879'
NOAA's Okeanos Explorer ship

9197 - 1316 CDT, N28° 38.261', W087° 58.777'
Deepwater Nautilus ("Vanuatu") plus two vessels carrying pipes plus supply crates.

9198 - 1344 CDT, N29· 03.200', W088° 05.465'
Shell platform ("VK956A") burning its flare!  Must check with Louisiana Bucket Brigade, must they report when they burn their flares?  Why?  Gas excess possibly related to the likely sonar gas-bubble research possibly being done by the NOAA vessel?  Just a few miles from the 9195 surface streamer.

(Returned to 9195, still intact and highly visible.)

9199 - 1425 CDT, N28° 55.937', W088° 34.076'
Grant Candies vessel, on station, no ROV on deck.

9200 -- 1449 CDT, N28° 59.165', W089° 10.328'
East Bay dredging (surf-washing).