Gulf of Mexico Expedition 2010: Xavier Pastor's Blog

Oceana Latitude

  • The Expedition to Cabrera and the seamounts of Ibiza

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: August 6, 2014

    On Monday we set off from the port of Palma for the ten-day expedition, with the goal of graphically documenting and taking samples from areas that are in real need of protection.

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  • It’s time to stop fishing for short term fixes

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: October 21, 2013

    (This piece was first published on Parliament Magazine’s website)

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  • Inching towards a fisheries deal

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: May 13, 2013

    This article originally appeared in the EU Observer on May 13th, 2013.

    As EU fish ministers meet in Brussels today and tomorrow (13-14 May) the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is on the brink of a crucial step in its reform process

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  • EU Fisheries: Little learned in 20 years

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: June 11, 2012

    Editor's Note: This commentary by our Executive Director originally appeared in the EUObserver

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  • Mission accomplished in the Gulf of Mexico

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: October 5, 2010

    Oceana’s first expedition in the Gulf of Mexico to evaluate the long-term effects of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe has concluded. For two months scientists, divers, ROV operators and support personnel on board the Oceana Latitude, sailed close to 4,000 miles - practically the distance from Miami (Florida) to Mallorca. Our team of divers completed 24 dives, and collected hundreds of photographs and hours of video footage.

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  • A few days in the Alabama Alps

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: September 18, 2010

    If you’ve been keeping up with the ship's log, you'll notice that these past two weeks have been as equally intense as the others. The departure of Oceana workers from Alaska and Washington and their hydrocarbon sensors was immediately compensated by the arrival of a new group of Spanish divers and the underwater robot (ROV) to Gulfport, Mississippi. Then we begin a new phase of the expedition: the visual exploration of the seabeds in the areas whose surface waters had been covered by oil for weeks.

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  • Celebrities, oil sludge and sharks

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: September 5, 2010

    Many things happened before we started to measure oil and before my last entry in this blog. The last time we were in Gulfport, almost two weeks ago, we were paid a visit by some Oceana friends who wanted to support our expedition with their presence. Morgan Freeman, Ted Danson and top model Almudena Fernandez came on board to help us spread our message and explain our work to the U.S. press. The mayor of one of the most important cities in Belize, a coastal city threatened by the offshore oil industry, also came on board.

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  • Inside the bowels of the beast

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: August 19, 2010

    Today we spent the whole day sailing around the Mississippi Delta in order to reach Grand Isle in Louisiana. It is at the western part of the mouth of this emblematic river. The Mississippi, that gives life, history, music and literature, has at the same time, during too many decades, been the sewer for a vast expanse of the United States from North to South. Now, its delta has also been attacked from the sea by the oil spilled by BP.

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  • We explored the abandoned oil wells off Alabama

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: August 18, 2010

    After another night of sailing, we reached Destin Dome, an area of the Gulf off Alabama where most of the 2,700 abandoned oil wells lie since offshore oil drilling began in the ‘40s of the past century. A few days ago, AP published information on the possibility that the sealing on some of these wells may be deteriorating and allowing oil to leak gradually without anyone detecting it. The Oceana Latitude was near this area, with a high concentration of abandoned wells.

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  • Obama's neighbors

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: August 17, 2010

    As we had predicted, and after a night of sailing, we reached the bay of Port Saint Joe, a small port at the westernmost tip of Florida, at the crack of dawn. At the local marina, they had kindly agreed to receive the Fedex and UPS packages that were sent to us over night from a couple of businesses in California and New Jersey with parts to repair our submarine robot. Sometimes, incredibly enough, these things turn out right. We purchased the parts by phone. They told us that they would be in a tiny port at the other end of a huge country the next morning, and there they were.

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  • Complicated diving on the high sea

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: August 16, 2010

    We awoke in the Florida Middle Grounds, an area protected against bottom trawling formed by an ancient reef about 100 miles from the coast. Its peaks reach a depth of 25 meters. There we had planned to do another series of submersions. Our initial plan was to use the divers on the reef’s peaks and the ROV on the slopes that dropped off to depths lying outside the scuba’s possibilities. The submarine robot’s problems, that we hope to solve tomorrow, have forced us to concentrate on the shallower parts of the Middle Grounds. For the first time, visibility was excellent. The sandy bottom, sprinkled with coral, also held abundant specimens of coral and tube sponges in which specimens of gobies, spider crabs, grouper, hogfish, angelfish, jellyfish and algae like the halimeda live.

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  • Diving in Saint Petersburg

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: August 15, 2010

    We arrived at the Tampa-Saint Petersburg dock, already quite a bit to the north of the western part of the Florida coast that is bathed in the Gulf waters. Today is the day that several shipmates who have been with us during this initial period of the expedition have had to leave the Latitude.

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  • A Calm Day

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: August 14, 2010

    It has been a day of sailing. We have sailed with excellent weather, a calm sea and a just sun Once it was freed from its struggle against the Gulf Stream, the Oceana Latitude regained its cruising speed of 10 knots.

    People continued adjusting their gear, answering their e-mails, editing videos and photographs and preparing work for the upcoming days. Together with the fact that it’s a weekend and not much input is being received from land, this has been a quiet day.

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  • The First Dives in the Gulf of Mexico

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: August 13, 2010

    This morning at the crack of dawn we used Oceana Latitude’s powerful auxiliary launch, the Longitude, to transport our group of divers to two areas of the reef to perform the first dives of the campaign. The first one was kind of disappointing. Visibility was practically nil and the coral and gorgonians were covered with a thick layer of sediment from the Everglades and other coastal discharges. Like Sole Esnaola said, this was like “diving in milk”. The second dive, like the previous one, took place at about 20 meters, but in an area farther from the coast.

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  • Light traps for plankton

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: August 12, 2010

    After sailing for almost two days from Fort Lauderdale, halted by the Gulf Stream, today we were able to start work on the sea. After having anchored the ship at the entrance to Key West harbor, we waited for nightfall to lower one of the Latitude’s launches and deploy a series of plankton light traps. They are a sort of keepnet with a very fine mesh, and a submersible lightbulb is placed inside them. The larvae and post-larval stages of many species are attracted by the light and they enter the traps through the small openings designed for this function.

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  • Sailing Towards the Gulf of Mexico

    Author: Xavier Pastor
    Date: August 11, 2010

    We have spent almost a week loading and getting the ship and gear ready and handling the media. Now it’s time to set sail toward the Gulf.

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