Today we flew about 500 miles over the Gulf to check out yet more reports of oil. We didn't even get to some of the places reported, because in just a few hours we had already found plenty in at least four distinct locations -- all within 75 miles of the shores of Louisiana!
Our plan for today was to check out three areas:
1. Breton Island, where last May we documented many subsurface dark reddish brown plumes surrounding the island rookery and spanning many miles north and south (see stories here).
2 The site of the defunct Ocean Saratoga platform owned by Taylor Energy, whose leak and extensive surface oil slick we documented this past July (see story here).
3. The site of the Deepwater Horizon (DH) explosion in April 2010, where fresh oil has been reported to be present still.
Click here to read the article and see photos and video of the day's flight, taken by colleagues Jonathan Henderson and Tarik Zawia from the Gulf Restoration Network!
Here's a preview:
We found significant amounts of oil in globule form still at the Deepwater Horizon (DH) site and at the Taylor Energy site, and we saw miles-long surface rainbow sheens from two different leaking platforms between DH and the Chandeleur Islands. Eight shrimp boats with their nets in the water were within one mile of these two leaking platforms. In the 'blue waters' out toward the DH site we were puzzled by some long, wide, unnatural-looking dark-green colored stripes. Finally, dark brownish-red subsurface plumes like what we had previously documented around Breton Island (Mar 2011) spanned miles in width and length, right up to the coastlines, beginning where the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet ("MR-GO") meets the Gulf south to Breton Sound. With all of that, we were ecstatic also to see three sperm whales, one leatherback turtle, four whale sharks, tuna, redfish, bottlenose dolphin, and cownose rays.
Some things puzzle us: We have seen substantial oil almost every time we've flown in the Gulf since March of this year, and yet we hear about very little of it in the media. Is that because no one else has been flying over the Gulf to see what's really going on? Is it just coincidence that all of these other offshore platforms have suddenly been leaking since the Deepwater Horizon (DH) explosion in April 2010? Or has the Gulf been suffering chronically from this kind of leakage? How much of the oil we've been seeing this year has anything to do with the DH explosion? A large fraction of the samples taken from these observed phenomena have contained oil whose 'fingerprint' matches that from the DH site. That doesn't mean that everything we're seeing comes from the DH incident; but it does seem safe to conclude that 1) oil from the DH explosion has made it quite a ways from the original site; and 2) there are many other oil leaks present in the Gulf!
Read more: Why hasn't all the oil gone?
2011 August 08, Monday
This time the stranded animal in need of rescue was us!
Well, we had our first genuine flight 'failure' on today's flight from Wisconsin down to New Orleans! But our experience and preparation for emergencies served us well -- and, fate was kind. With no hint that there was anything wrong with our engine at all, we departed West Bend, WI just after sunrise Monday morning in order to beat some very bad weather going on around and south of St. Louis, MO. We didn't quite beat it though. And when we tried to climb to 10,000 feet as instructed by Air Traffic Control, Bessie (our faithful plane) didn't climb very well. But we made it through the bad weather and, since she seemed to be running smoothly, we descended to land at a small rural airport in Yazoo City, Mississippi, where we guessed that fuel might be inexpensive and the stop could be brief.
We taxied to the self-serve fuel at what from the ground now appeared to be an almost abandoned airport, only to find an "Out Of Order" sign on it! Not wanting to waste a drop of fuel at this point, we didn't even shut off the engine, but just taxied back to the runway for takeoff. The engine was rough when we applied power for takeoff! She climbed well enough for the flat terrain around there, and the engine smoothed out on takeoff, so I opted to continue 20 miles to the very next airport, Williams Airport in rural Raymond, MS. But my brain and senses were on high alert!
We refueled there, but Bessie never fired again.
Los Angeles, California to Edmonton, Canada
Click here to see the photos and video and read about this beautiful and exciting rescue flight that took us from southern California across the Sierra Nevada range, then across the northern Rockies up into Alberta, Canada!
From the article (now under "Rescues inProgress" but soon to be moved to "Rescue Tails"):
"A bit too exciting in terms of winds and afternoon thermal turbulence for me to take my hands off the controls to snap any photos of the gorgeous Sierras, Cascades, and northern Rockies -- but trust me, they were sights to behold! Hansen (the poodle) seemed particular entranced with it all, and he was often standing on his hind feet right behind me gazing out at the scenery. But let's start at the beginning before we get to the excitement..."
Read more: Ten lucky dogs from death row to love in Canada!
2011 Aug 03
Click here to read about our ambitious new rescue campaign!
We can take no more. If you all could see the outrageously high number of beautiful, healthy, adoptable, outstanding animals that are being killed every single night in high-kill shelters in California alone, you would think this world has gone insane. And you might also feel crushed inside, as we do. We are slowly but surely starting to work behind the scenes to change some of the worst of these high-kill shelters to low-kill and ultimately, we hope, to no-kill shelters. You can read a series of articles and videos we've started posting on our Facebook site here. And as we make progress that we can publicize, we'll also post articles on this website.
(This article also appears under our "Rescues in Progress" tab.)
To our friends who know that killing adoptable animals is not the "kindness" that humans or animals need!