2011 Dec 09 Friday
Gulf of Mexico
Lured by a narrow window of clear skies and calm seas, we had the plane warmed up and ready to fly by sunrise. We were itching to see the offshore area again, having not seen it for almost a month. On our last flight (Nov 12), we saw more than a dozen large ships working in a 30-sq-mile area around the site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster (the Macondo prospect), in addition to the usual smaller supply vessels. They provided little information about what they were doing except to say that they were "studying natural seeps in the area." Aerial dispersant planes have continued to conduct almost weekly flights across Breton Sound, over Grand Isle, and out to the Macondo, with the legal blessing of our government and paychecks from the oil industry to spray Corexit to disperse and sink surface oil. Aware of these flights (even as recently as last week), we were prepared to find little or no surface oil; but we were eager to learn if a high level of work activity was continuing. So we were surprised to find not a work vessel in sight, and scattered patches and lines of surface oil almost everywhere we went!
Here is a map of our flight track; the red circles are surface oil sightings (those marked "1209" were from today; a few sizable slicks from other recent flights are also shown on this map). As always, you may download our entire GPS track from today's flight, with descriptions of all sightings and waypoint coordinates, by going to the main menu tab called "Flight Tracks."
See photos and video and the rest of this article here!