oceana gulf expedition

Day 6: Back to Reality

Posted Wed, Aug 18, 2010 by admin to back to reality, diving, gulf oil spill, new studies, oceana gulf expedition, photos, the oil is not gone, wildlife

Here’s your expedition update for today, from Oceana’s senior campaign communications manager Dustin Cranor:

News flash – the oil in the Gulf is not gone.

Although there have been lots of media reports that the oil in the Gulf is "gone," two new scientific studies were released today that give a different -- and less rosy -- picture.

First, independent scientists estimate that as much as 80 percent of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill is still in the Gulf. Even if it's only 50 percent, that’s a lot of oil. Second, and even more disturbing, scientists discovered oil from the spill on the seafloor of Desoto Canyon, which means that oil could be in shallower waters where vulnerable habitats exist.

Oceana believes that the worst of the oil’s impacts are yet to be seen. As part of our effort to document valuable and vulnerable habitats, we took advantage of our location and dove not too far from the same beach that President Obama recently visited in Panama City.

On this nearly 90 foot dive, Oceana’s divers spotted tiny corals, arrow crabs, hermit crabs, flatfish, soapfish and butterflyfish, all species at risk from the effects of oil spills. What many do not realize is that there is simply no effective way to remove oil from coral.

Look at some of the incredible creatures our divers spotted:

 

 


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Day 5: Diving into the Unknown

Posted Tue, Aug 17, 2010 by Emily Fisher to angelfish, blenny, deep-sea corals, diving, florida middle grounds, oceana gulf expedition, snapper

Here’s your daily expedition update from Oceana’s senior campaign communications manager Dustin Cranor:

The Oceana Latitude faced rougher seas today as it reached The Florida Middle Grounds off the West Florida Shelf in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, roughly 100 miles from shore. This is another area that was apparently spared the impacts of oil drilling, at least this time.

Oceana chose this location for its next diving operation because it’s a very important and popular fishing area sitting amongst a complex and vulnerable seafloor habitat, including deep sea corals. Although it’s a popular fishing area, there is little information about the seafloor itself, due to its distance from shore and depth from the surface. 

Our first dive site was nearly 100 feet deep and provided a great opportunity to document large hogfish and angel fish as well as sponges and sea fans.


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Day 4: Diving at Egmont Key

Posted Mon, Aug 16, 2010 by Emily Fisher to almudena fernandez, diving, egmont key, oceana gulf expedition, tampa bay

Here’s your expedition update for today, from Oceana’s senior campaign communications manager Dustin Cranor:

 After nearly 30 hours in commute, we finally arrived to Tampa.

The crew took off early this morning on the Oceana Lat-Long, the Latitude’s 28-foot tender, to dive at Egmont Key at the mouth of Tampa Bay. Egmont Key, a national wildlife refuge only accessible by boat, was home to Fort Dade during the Spanish-American war. Although this island was once capable of protecting our coasts from offshore invaders, it’s no defense against oil.

Here’s support diver Soledad Esnaola: 

Soledad Esnaola Second Oceana Dive Operation Egmont Key from Oceana on Vimeo.


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Day 3: Sailing to Tampa

Posted Sun, Aug 15, 2010 by Emily Fisher to audrey matura shepherd, belize, day 3, dolphin video, gulf oil spill, oceana gulf expedition

Here’s your expedition update for today, from Oceana’s senior campaign communications manager Dustin Cranor:

The Oceana Latitude sailed all night and day to reach our next destination, Tampa.

The long commute allowed the crew to review and prepare photos and video from the dive operation off the coast of Key West. Although the conditions were not ideal, our specialized divers were able to capture some beautiful underwater landscapes. And while in commute, we were entertained by yet another dolphin sighting. This time, we have it on video for you.

Dolphin Sighting Onboard Oceana Latitude, Headed to Tampa, FL from Oceana on Vimeo.


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Day 2: ‘Diving in Milk’

Posted Sat, Aug 14, 2010 by Emily Fisher to day 2, dead coral, diving, gulf of mexico, key west, ocean conservation, oceana gulf expedition, snorkeling

Your daily expedition update from Oceana senior campaign communications manager Dustin Cranor:

The Oceana crew set off for their first dive operation at the Western Dry Rocks off the coast of Key West yesterday morning.

The diving conditions at this first location were far from ideal. Recent storms stirred up the water with sand and mud, leaving the divers with limited visibility of only three to nine feet. Support diver Soledad Esnaola described it as “like diving in milk.”  The site was approximately 50 feet deep and a majority of the coral was covered in sediment. Despite the poor conditions, underwater videographer Enrique Talledo spotted a six-foot green moray eel.

The second dive took place at the Western Sambo Reef, which offered much better visibility of approximately 25 feet. After diving in many different environments all around the world, Oceana’s divers found the reefs to be mostly dead or dying, with little biodiversity, very few fish and no invertebrate life. It was far from what they expected to see on a Caribbean reef. They did catch sight of a 10-inch yellow stingray, a three-foot wide brain coral boulder, grey angel fish, yellowtail snapper, small sea fans and wrasse, small cigar shaped fish.


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Day 1: Playful Dolphins and Baby Fish

Posted Fri, Aug 13, 2010 by Emily Fisher to baby fish, day 1, dolphins, gulf oil spill, key west, oceana gulf expedition

Here’s your expedition update for today, from senior campaigns communications manager, Dustin Cranor:

The Oceana Latitude is now anchored off the coast of Key West for the first leg of its two-month expedition.

On our long voyage from Fort Lauderdale, we spotted a lot of sargassum floating on the surface of the water. It’s sad to imagine that this floating seaweed is at risk in the Gulf of Mexico because it provides essential habitat for marine animals in the open ocean.

We also had our first interaction with something other than flying fish. As we made our way into shallow waters, dolphins begin surrounding the bow of the ship. They continued entertaining the crew by swimming and eating small fish around the boat for hours.

Oceana also took part in the first activity of the expedition, catching and examining small fish. After allowing the fish traps to soak in the water, Oceana marine scientist Margot Stiles quickly identified several small critters, including baby lobsters, shrimp, crabs and squid.

Here’s Margot:

Margot Stiles Describes Oceana's First Activity on Gulf Expedition, Examining Baby Fish off Key West August 12, 2010 from Oceana on Vimeo.


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And They’re Off!

Posted Thu, Aug 12, 2010 by Emily Fisher to fort lauderdale, gulf oil spill, key west, mike hirshfield, oceana gulf expedition, oceana latitude

I’m happy to report that the Oceana Latitude officially set sail yesterday evening for the Gulf of Mexico out of Fort Lauderdale!

The first stop will be Key West, where the Oceana crew will work with the ROV and specialized divers to document bottom habitat and other marine life that could be in danger if oil is captured by sea currents and transported towards southern Florida or if another oil spill occurs in this area in the future.

Here’s Oceana chief scientist Mike Hirshfield:

Dr. Michael Hirshfield about Oceana Latitude Setting Sail from Oceana on Vimeo.

 

 

 


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Testing Out The Latitude

Posted Wed, Aug 11, 2010 by suzannah to bp oil disaster, gulf of mexico oil spill, oceana gulf expedition, oceana latitude

Testing out the ROV on the Oceana Latitude. Credit: Oceana

The Oceana Latitude is making its final preparations for eight weeks on the water. We got this dispatch from our trusty senior campaigns communications manager, Dustin Cranor:


Good news. The satellite internet and phone system is back up and running.

The crew took advantage of the day by spending time testing a majority of the equipment onboard the Oceana Latitude.

Matthias Gorny, from Oceana’s Chilean office, launched the ROV from the vessel to assess its standard operating procedures, including ensuring that its seals were working properly. The Longitude, a 42 foot boat adapted for Oceana’s research needs, was also deployed for at sea testing.

I’m happy to report that everything worked as planned.

 

Click here to see a slideshow of photos from the preparations, including a visit from Spanish model Almudena Fernandez.


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Video Tour of the Oceana Latitude

Posted Tue, Aug 10, 2010 by Emily Fisher to margot stiles, oceana gulf expedition, oceana latitude, video tour

The crew aboard the Oceana Latitude is just about ready to set sail in the Gulf of Mexico to investigate the long-term impacts of the oil spill. Oceana marine scientist Margot Stiles is on-board making last minute preparations; here she is to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the crew's home away from home for the next two months:

 


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