On Friday the Latitude set off on the next leg of the journey: measuring the underwater oil plume in the Gulf of Mexico. Here’s our on-board dispatcher for this leg, Will Race, on the very wet start to the experiment:
On Friday, the crew held a strategy meeting to discuss the next seven days and what’s in store. Pacific Science Director Dr. Jeff Short explained his science experiment: The basic approach for evaluating the subsurface oil plumes will be the deployment of an array of moorings with sensor strips every 100 meters.
Moorings will be deployed in three main areas: 12 within 5 km of the wellhead, 12 in a rectangular array extending up to 90 km to the northeast of the wellhead, and 12 in another rectangular array extending up to 90 km southwest of the wellhead.
With everyone in agreement, it was time to go. Due to the drastically shallow shore line, the Mississippi Port Authorities require a local captain come aboard to navigate boats through the shallows, until they are offshore. An additional treat was when pelicans and various other marine birds decided to escort us out to sea.
Once out at sea, the Oceana team continued to assemble gear for the next day’s first mooring drop. We traveled nearly 10 hours to the first drop site.
Dr. Jeffrey Short, Oceana's Pacific Science Director, recently retired from a 31-year career as a research chemist at NOAA, where he worked primarily on oil pollution and other contaminant issues.
He was the leading chemist for the governments of Alaska and the United States for the natural resource damage assessment and restoration of Exxon Valdez oil spill, and guided numerous studies on the distribution, persistence and effects of the oil.