20120914 - Oil on the Horizon

2012 September 14, Friday
Gulf of Mexico, 50-150 miles southeast of New Orleans, LA

The R/V Endeavor (a UNOLS vessel operated by the University of Rhode Island) has been busy in the Gulf off of Louisiana again, studying natural and not-so-natural oil seeps and the status of the ocean floor.  They contacted us a few days ago to advise us that they found themselves sitting in a surface oil slick, in the vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) "spill" site of April 2010.  Today was the first day we could arrange to fly out there, and yes, we did indeed find oil slicks in that good old MC252 quadrant.  We hope to learn from their samples whether the surface oil there is from long-existing natural seeps, or whether it is from the reservoir that unleashed its contents just 2.5 years ago.

Here are maps of today's 3.9-hour flight.  We flew to the DWH site via Breton Sound, to check out some suspiciously slick-looking areas near there, according to MODIS satellite data.  We didn't stop to look around carefully, but we didn't see any obvious surface oil in this area. But what was unusual was how high the water seemed to be. The usual islands were scarcely visible. Fortunately, we had heard that the tides were unusually high today, so we were relieved not to have to think that this situation was some permanent consequence of Hurricane Isaac.










On reaching the DWH site, we immediately saw two surface oil slicks, separated from each other by about a mile.  The first one was about a third of a mile long and about 100 meters wide, the other a bit smaller.  The water was choppy, and it was difficult to get good footage of the slicks from the air.  We also saw another slick a bit northwest of here on our way back. Here are a few still photos of those slicks. More are in the photo galleries below.









All platforms in this area were flaring today. We went as far southwest as the BP "Thunderhorse" platform, which was also flaring. There was a supply boat there (the Kore Chouest) and a clearly visible, substantial oil slick extending westward several hundred meters, perhaps caused by something they were discharging. (See video of this also, below.)







Returning back via the Chandeleur Islands, we came across some very strange-looking expanses of dark murky water, huge expanses of it stretching for miles and miles, with "fuzzy" jagged lines, not like ordinary convergence lines. We saw similar things in this area in the spring of 2011, except at that time it was dark reddish-brown, but today it was dark green.  This is probably what the folks at Skytruth.org had told us they had been seeing on the MODIS satellite imagery in this area.  We hope someone more knowledgeable about these things will head out and sample it or advise us what it is!  See the video and more photos of this strange dark green stuff below.

The unusually high tide was manifest at the Chandeleurs also.  At least we hope that's what it was, else Isaac really tore up this lovely chain of islands.  For today, there was not much to see of them; they looked more like shallow sandbars than islands. Lovely Breton island barely remained above water.







For the entire trip, we barely saw a bird, and we saw no wildlife in the water at all.

It was a great pleasure to be in the air and over the water and beautiful wetlands again today.  But feelings were mixed, as it is always sad to see so little wildife when we remember seeing so much here in 2010.  We wonder what it was like before 2010 and wish we could have seen it then!

More photos and videos from today are shown below the Flight Log.  Our GPS Flight tracks can be downloaded by clicking on the main menu item "Flight Tracks" -- or clicking here.  

Many thanks to the folks at Skytruth.org for noticing the strange MODIS satellite images south of the Chandeleurs, and to FlightlineFirst at New Orleans' Lakefront airport for helping make this On Wings Of Care flight possible!  


**** FLIGHT LOG - OWOC Gulf Flight 20120914 ****

On Wings Of Care Flight Log for 20120914 Friday
Survey of DWH site to Thunderhorse, Chandeleurs and Breton Sound
KNEW to Breton Sound, DWH, Thunderhorse, Chandeleurs

All waypoint numbers below refer to the GPS tracks shown in today's article at OnWingsOfCare.org.
Times are given in CDT.  
Lat/lons are given in degrees and decimal minutes.
Aircraft:  Bonny Schumaker with Brayton Matthews of On Wings Of Care.
Seas and weather:  Seas 1  ft, scattered high clouds, 5-15 kt winds from the northeast-north.
Visibility:  Air good, sea good (the usual muddy in coastal areas).
Flight time:  3.9 hours
Flight route: KNEW - Breton Sound- DWH (MC252) - Thunderhorse - Chandeleurs - KNEW
Maps of our route showing the following waypoints identified during our flight, plus some relevant waypoints from previous flights, are in today's article (including a link to our GPS track file).

0393. 1455 CDT. N29 08.327 W88 47.033
Large vessel pulling a medium-size vessel (!)

DWH area:
****0394.  1514 CDT. N28 44.297 W88 22.828

Surface oil sheen, ~ 100m wide, ~400m long, SE to NW.

****Another smaller surface slick about a mile farther to the SE,
~50m wide, ~100 m long.

0395. 1523 CDT. N28 43.209 W88 20.487
Platform flaring, supply boat "Ms Lauren".  BP - MC474A.  Sheen nearby.

0396. 1542 CDT. N28 24.947 W88 13.382
MODU (Drilling rig) "Sandhill West Capricorn"

0397. 1545 CDT. N28 20.249 W88 15.709
"Blind Faith MC650" platform, flaring.

0398. 1549 CDT. N28 15.926 W88 23.617
"27?58 Murphy" platform, flaring.

0399. 1551 CDT. N28 14.378 W88 27.631
Drillship "Deepwater Pathfinder"

0400. 1556 CDT. N28 12.166 W88 29.970
"Thunderhorse - BP", flaring. Nearby vessel "Kore Chouest".
Slick extending from it to the west, several hundred meters.

0401. 1559 CDT. N28 14.531 W88 28.482
Drill ship, moving slowly (Deepwater Pathfinder, again)

0402. 1601 CDT. N28 14.104 W88 24.259
Eastbound vessel "Busy Bee"

0403. 1606 CDT. N28 19.814 W88 23.082
NOAA research vessel "Endeavor", southbound (destination about four miles farther south; we communicated by radio)

0404. 1615 CDT. N28 25.071 W88 24.600
Tug pushing a tanker which had "Crowley" written on the side of something on deck.  Couldn't see other name on tanker or tug.

****0405.  1633 CDT. N28 50.771 W88 29.761
OIL.  ~50m by ~500m, running SW-NE.

0406. 1654 CDT. N29 23.320 W88 43.468
Shrimp boat

****0407.  1659 CDT. N29 33.847 W88 48.396
Strange dark stuff everywhere, for miles, SW-NE and extending NW, in this area to the south and southeast of the Chandeleurs.

****0408.  1704 CDT. N29 42.032 W88 49.659
More of this strange dark cloudy stuff -- and not a cloud in the sky, so definitely not shadows!  ~10 miles wide and ~10 miles long, at least.  Extends north to the Chandeleur islands.  NO birds around here at all.

0409. 1707 CDT. N29 43.864 W88 50.641
Just south of the Chandeleurs - platform.
The Chandeleur islands barely protrude above water. 
Not at all what they looked like in 2010!


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Pellie Lou!

"The Story of Pellie Lou - a Pelican who survived the Gulf of Mexico oil spill"
by Bonny L. Schumaker, Ph.D.
With 46 photos from the Gulf of Mexico.
ALL proceeds go to benefit Gulf wildlife!

Order your autographed hard copies or an electronic copy here!

Or buy from Amazon anywhere in the world, here!


Follow Our Flights!

You can track our paths for several days after them, when we keep our GPS "SPOT" transmitter on "Track" mode. For the latest flights, see
For our latest journeys see (Track our flights).

Read about our rescues under Rescue Tails!
Here are some samples:

Adios to hunger, Bienvenidos a Love!
20130611- Seven lucky rescued dogs from Mexico are now being fed and pampered in southern California, and are ready for their forever families!





From Streets to Royalty!
20130610 - Feline Patience and Humanity at their best brought these two beautiful kitties from despair to delight, after some superb rescue and logistical efforts by rescue groups from all across the country. (This is a "Before" photo! Check out the "After" photos!) 





A Dog Named Pepper Doesn't Give up Easily on Life!
20130428 - This 15-yr-old deaf, blind, arthritic senior held out in a hot, dry, desert parking lot until love finally found him!








CHAZ - No Ordinary Extraordinary Cur! 
20130422 - Left to die but instead, this super-intelligent deep-hearted dog discovered love, family, and even fun -- from the most unlikely mentors!










Turbulent Trails for Tails from TX-20130413
Six rescue dogs from east Texas find forever homes in Nevada and California! 






Skip the Wonder Sled Dog - 20120930
Happy Update! 20130312 
And ANOTHER UPDATE! 20130821!! 



Last but not left!  20130106
Happy Update - 20130311





20121223-Thanks to Sheba, the rescued and rescuer

Who was rescued, and who was the rescuer? Anyone who has known this kind of bond has felt something so deep, so real, so ancient, that it cannot be described with words. These bonds ground us and free us from pettiness in our lives. Thank you Sheba. Rest in peace.


A Letter From Your Admirers! 20121231






20121208- 43 Dogs go from dead-end in Porterville to homes and happy hearts!

This was a last-minute challenge that seemed beyond even our own grandest heroic imaginings. But it turned out not to be beyond the devoted hearts and energies of about 30 rescuers, shelter staff, volunteers, and families working together. Forty-three (yes, 43!) dogs in one day, from dead-ends in a Porterville shelter to homes and real lives with real humans who love and want them.  Rescuers ROCK!   


20121206-Saga of Squee: From orphan with mange to her own fur-ever family!

Orphaned very young, left alone and hungry til her fur fell out and her skin was covered with mange. Thanks to some big-hearted Texas rescuers, not only did she recover, she found the family who wanted to love her forever. How glad we were to be able to give this little pup with the big paws the ride to the rest of her life! 


20121205-Blackie Goes Home at Last, and Taylor Turns Texan!

Four long months since Blackie's lifelong human companion and partner Tammy suffered a serious injury from a passing truck and disappeared from his life. Suddenly Blackie was in a shelter kennel, and Tammy fought for her life as she dreamed of her beloved dog. Thanks to many people, both of these souls survived to find each other again! This was a rescue and a reunion we'll never forget.


Miss T'Chen was lost in Hurricane Isaac, and saved 800 miles away!
2012 Oct 02

The same rains that made us work "On WHEELS Of Care" this week kept us grounded for this trip, which serendipitously combined the transport of Skip northward and the joyful and miraculous reunion of Miss T'Chen, who had been rescued and taken to Illinois after Hurricane Isaac, with her family in Baton Rouge!






7 Lucky dog and 51 (yes 51!) lucky cats and kittens make it to fur-ever homes in Oregon, Idaho, and California!
2012 Sep 24

This flight went almost as planned, and our plane was filled to over-flowing on every leg. And we met some wonderful new cat and dog rescues in Idaho and Oregon!

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20 Lucky rescued dogs flown to homes in Canada!

2012 Sep 22 

It turned out to a journey full of unexpected challenges, but these 20 lucky lovable canines who had been through the worst of times in California were just the best through it all, and now they are warming the hearts and laps and lives of some very lucky Canadian families!  

Spindletop Scandal and the Search for Scarlett
012 July 17 - present

With pitbull-like tenacity, we wouldn't take "NO" for an answer. Out of 21 dogs we sought, we have closure on all but two. Alas, one of those two is our Scarlett. 






Tale of seven cities, six cats, and five goats!

2012 July 16 

Who knows if the pleas for help brought the plane, or vice-versa.
But when serendipity puts this much together, there's no saying no!







Homeless Mom and Pups no More!

2012 July 08 

Sometimes rescuers find  the IDEAL person to adopt that animal in need ...
themselves! And in the process, a hole gets filled for the entire family.
This lucky mom now lives with Bear, Sheba, and Dave!





From Empty Nest to Love Fest!

2012 May 11

That last urgent plea came for the five orphaned pups ...
but what about the two large senior boys who would probably never get adopted?
Some people are just angels, meant to be who they are and where they are.
Check out these two and their new happy pack!







JEREMIAH has come home to us!

UPDATE 2012 July 7!
2012 January 13

His adopter called to say she had become ill, and could we care for Jeremiah? You bet we could.  We rented a plane and flew to Arizona and retrieved him immediately. Jeremiah was indeed a true friend, and we aim to be his true friends, too. He has been eating like crazy and slept his stress away for the first few days, and now he's acting like a young dog again.  Read more here




CHAMP found at the airport!
2012 January 01 

A sad, scared but dignified young Champ quickly won the hearts of everyone who met him at the New Orleans airport, and within two days we had permission from his original breeders to give him to a young couple with a younger female boxer mix, all of whom fell totally in love with him at first sight!  Champ and Miss Princess are leading the good life now, and Champ's new dad finally has the fishing buddy he wanted! They tell us we made their dreams come true. We think they made Champ's come true, too.








Abby & Dinozo -- Two of a Kind!
2011 September--2012 January

Orphaned brother and sister, rescued and adored until calamity struck and they lost their family.  Orphaned again, these gentle gems and perfect canine citizens found love and adventure with us until we found them their true forever home!  Abby & Dinozo came with us to Washington January 7, and they were welcomed warmly and immediately into a home. Read more here

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Yo!  Get a Load of Yolo!
2011 November--2012 January

Left in the cold, high in the mountains of southern California, life was over before it had barely begun for this orphan teenager.
Little did he know, his adventures had only begun! As of January 7, it's back to snow but this time with a family who adores him, and lots of fun and play in the Pacific Northwest!









Saving Scarlett -- Love Forever at Last!
2011 August--December 

Found on the streets, teats full but puppies absent, a battle-torn very hungry pitbull.
Hardly that sought-after doggie in the window.
But after we brought Miss Scarlett home to love and food, warmth and stuffed animals,
we discovered a warm heart and sweet spirit that changed us forever.


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Gunner and Cain - A Very, Very Long Journey Home and the Happiest Reunion Ever!

2011 July--September 29, A Joyful Reunion At Last! 
Here they are during their flight with four other dogs Sep 29 (New Orleans to Oakland, CA, fuel stop in Roswell, NM).  
20110929-1-dogwalk (1)

And here's a photo from the happiest reunion ever!



More photos and updated videos here!  


Ten dogs from death row to Canada!

(2011 July)


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Sheba-Cosette - this lovely lady waited a lifetime!
(2011 June) 










Jeremiah - a true friend finds a new lease on life!
(2011 May) 
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Two Giant Dogs & three cats reunited
with their family on Whidbey Island, WA
(2011 April)

Chihuahuas "Betty" & "JellyBean"
fly to their rescue in Bremerton, WA!
(2011 April)

New Year's Rescue:  33 dogs & cats
are flown to rescue in the Pacific Northwest!
(2011 January)









Hounds fending for themselves for years in Alabama fly to rescue in Arizona!
(2011 Mar)





Romo & Stanley are flown to safe havens in Arizona!
(2011 Mar)



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Whales, Sharks, & Turtles in the Gulf of Maine - 2012

2012 June
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2011 April --

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-Albert Schweitzer

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