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2013 July10  Wednesday
Ship Shoal Lease Block 225, northwest of Ewing Bank

Gulf of Mexico 

UPDATE:  Video has been uploaded -- see below!

A badly leaking natural gas well in the Ship Shoal Lease Block #225 of the Gulf of Mexico has spread an ugly, toxic mass of oily rainbow sheen over several square miles not far from the top of Ewing Bank -- an area once rich with marine life, especially large plankton feeders and many other species of marine life. We have flown that area in eight different five-to-six-hour wildlife survey flights just within the past three weeks, helping scientists find and study whale sharks.  Today, despite mirror-calm seas, excellent water and air visibility, and clear blue water, we saw barely a trace of marine life in this area.  In a couple of hours of searching that area, we found just one hammerhead shark, a few dolphin, a few small bait balls and some flying fish. Closer to shore, off the Isles Dernieres, we did see some cownose rays and small turtles, a few more dolphin and a few small bait balls, but still not much by comparison with years past.  We are seriously starting to wonder where all the life has gone, and how the animals who remain are managing to find enough to eat.

But our report on wildlife in the Gulf waits for a separate article. Here we just want to share with you today's photos and videos from our flyover of this badly leaking natural gas well. It is one of several owned by Houston-based Talos Energy LLC (who purchased them from Energy Resources Technology Gulf of Mexico LLC last February). The well and surrounding platforms are barely 25 miles northwest of the top of Ewing Bank, sitting in fairly shallow water not more than a few hundred feet deep.

Here are a few photos.  Many more are included at the end of this article, and a high-definition video is included below!  (Photo credits: Billy Dugger with On Wings Of Care)


According to news reports, Talos Energy has been in the process of plugging and abandoning this leaking well. They reported the  uncontrolled leakage of this particular well to the US Coast Guard just a few days ago, and they predicted that it would be plugged by now.  As of this afternoon, the area is still quite a mess of surface rainbow sheen.

Here are a video and more photos taken today on our flight. As always high-resolution versions of any of our photos or videos are available on request for purposes that benefit the Gulf of Mexico or her residents. And our GPS Flight Tracks from today can be downloaded here.  

Many thanks to On Wings Of Care volunteers and true friends of the Gulf Terese Collins and Billy Dugger from Biloxi, MS, for joining us today to make this flight and for helping take photos and videos.   
(Photo credits: Billy Dugger with On Wings Of Care; Video credits:  Terese P. Collins with On Wings Of Care