Today we saw some new things around the area. A fleet of skimmer ships was doing a surface burn to reduce the size of an oil slick. We were a couple of miles away from the burn but the large cloud of black smoke caught everyone’s eye. I’m still amazed by the ‘city of ships’ around the spill site. The rigs drilling the relief wells and the ‘siphon’ ship (large ship to the left in photo), as well as many support vessels are visible in this shot.
Previous Cruise Blogs
Earlier today, we sent the CTD down at a site where two CDOM rich layers were documented during the Pelican cruise. We did three casts and unfortunately, saw only very weak signals and had nothing to get excited about.
The Walton Smith departed Gulfport at 8PM on May 25. The science party consists of microbiologists, geologists and biogeochemists from the University of Georgia, the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill), the University of California (Santa Barbara) and the University of Southern Mississippi and Justin Gillis, a journalist. Our objective is to conduct a comprehensive, interdisciplinary study of the deepwater plumes that were discovered on the Pelican cruise two weeks ago . We will be further documenting the plume's distribution as well as measuring microbial activity and a suite of geochemical constituents. We arrived at the spill site around 6AM. There's a lot of oil on the surface to the N-NE of the spill site. The smell of oil and gas is strong. I expected to see a lot of ships in the area but I was amazed by the density of ships: there are ships everywhere, as far as you can see. We began to cruise a line to the SW in search of the plume discovered on the Pelican cruise. We turned on the chirp sonar system around 8AM but the plume appears to be acoustically transparent -- or maybe it has moved? At about 9:30, we decided to do a profile with the sensors to "see" what the water column looks like.