20130127-Calm seas but troubled waters

2013 January 27, Sunday
Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River, Louisiana

Today we had a wonderful treat. Our hard-working colleague and Gulf heroine Trisha James and her husband Mark joined us for a flight over the Gulf! On our way southward, we took a little extra time to check out some spots of concern along the Mississippi River, thanks to an alert from Scott Eustis of the Gulf Restoration Network. So in addition to what we can show you about offshore Louisiana today, you'll see some photos of two large coal terminals along the east bank of the Mississippi, as well as a new pass that the river is building in Bohemia, downriver of where the levee ends. You'll also see a dramatic wetlands fire that surprised us on our return back.

Unfortunately there are still some troubling sites offshore.  The chronic Taylor Energy slick remains a heinous pollution situation, and today's quiet seas revealed that slick to be larger in size than it has looked to us before.  What looks to be a natural seep about 10 miles southwest of the Macondo area, which we discovered last week, remains as it looked last week.  But the most troubling vision today was the Macondo area itself.  The slick that we had first noticed last fall, which was spreading over the area within a half-mile or so of the scene of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, was huge today. It stretched over 7 nautical miles in the south-north direction and was almost a mile wide in some spots. There were some patches of rainbow sheen and even some weathered oil (brownish "mousse"), although overall it remained a light surface sheen.  The ENSCO8502 drilling rig is still working in MC253 there; its presence provides scale in the photos.

Here are a few introductory photos of these sites.  Many more photos, plus a video of the Macondo area, are in the full article below.  Many thanks to Trisha and Mark for coming all the way from Florida to join us today, and to both of them for taking photos and video! 

The two large coal piles we examined are the Kinder Morgan International Marine Terminal and United Bulk Coal Terminal.  We are told that there are plans to expand these coal (and pet coke) terminals by nearly 400%, into Plaquemines Parish. Such coal terminals have been stopped in other parts of the country such as the northwest, for environmental protection reasons. Is this a case of Louisiana being willing to sacrifice and take risks that other more cautious states have refused? 

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A little farther down the river we checked out a new pass that the river is building in Bohemia, on the east bank, downriver of where the levee ends -- appropriately called Mardi Gras Pass.  This new river is sustaining the wetlands beyond it, and it is also happy home to many otters.  It is threatened, however, by an oil company road that would fill it. That road construction was not exactly impressive, as you'll see in the photos below.  

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Before we reached the southern tip of Louisiana, and as we approached the eastern shores, we saw our first significant oil slick. We reported this to the National Response Center as the first of what would be four reports from today; this one was NRC Incident Report #1036761. We'll post a photo of it by tomorrow.

Our first stop offshore was the chronic Taylor Energy slick, barely off the southern tip of Louisiana.  This slick looked larger than we’ve seen it in many months.  The calm seas of the past few days have allowed surface slicks to remain visible, and the spatial extent of this one is shocking. (This was our NRC Incident Report #1036762.)

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As we approached the Macondo area, we first flew a few miles west to see if the new small slick we had seen ther last Sunday remained.  Sure enough, it does, same size and same place.  Perhaps this is a new natural seep? (This was NRC Incident Report #1036760 for today.)

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Arriving at the scene of the 2010 April BP disaster, near the infamous lease block "MC252", we saw the most dramatic and disturbing site of all. This surface slick now stretches more than 7 nm in length south to north and is over a mile wide in many places.  There are patches of rainbow and weathered “mousse” in it as well, which we have not seen out there for many months.  (This was NRC Incident Report #1036763, our fourth and final report for today.)

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We returned on a direct path toward New Orleans, over Breton Island and the “city” of platforms in that vicinity.  There were some dramatic marsh fires in the wetlands as we approached New Orleans, one of them adjacent to what looked like an abandoned refinery. We didn't get a great photo of that one, but the second fire, just a bit farther north, seemed to grow before our eyes.

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Here are the usual Google Earth maps showing our route.  Our exact GPS flight tracks can be downloaded here, and our Flight Log is appended at the bottom of this article.

Here are the coal terminals along the Mississippi River:

Here is Mardi Gras pass:


Here is the Taylor Energy pollution site as it looked today:

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Here is that small slick (natural seep?) about 10 miles southwest of the MC252 area:

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Here are photos and a video of that huge surface oil slick in the Macondo area now:

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Here are some closer views of the surface oil in the Macondo area:


Finally, here is the marshland fire we came upon on our return flight to New Orleans:


*****   Update 20130129:  Trisha James has posted her photos from this flight for all to enjoy!  Thank you, Trisha!  See them here!  
 

****** Here is a transcript of our Flight Log.  ******

On Wings Of Care Flight Log for 20130127 - Sunday
Overflight of Gulf of Mexico Taylor Energy & MC252 areas

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.
Personnel: Dr. Bonny Schumaker with Trisha James and Mark James
Seas and weather:  Seas 1-2 ft, winds ~15 kts from the east-southeast.
Sky & Visibility: A few scattered clouds, 15-mile visibility
Flight time:  3.0 hours
Flight route: KNEW - MS River - Taylor Energy & vicinity- MC252 & vicinity - KNEW

20130120 -  Waypoints of Interest

KNEW - Lakefront Airport

-- Southeastward across Black Bay

-- 0449 (Taylor Energy)

-- ADIZ:  ~N28 53  W088 33 or ~ 90 nm southeast (~135°) from KNEW

-- MC252 and vicinity
......

KNEW

ADIZ crossing:  ~N28°55’, W088°52’ (KNEW - ~90 nm, ~135°).
Destination (for DVFR flight plan):  MC252 (KNEW ~120 nm ~130°)

____________________

South-southeastward from KNEW, down the MS river:

Two large coal piles:
Kinder Morgan International Marine Terminal (KDRM):  N29 37.436 W89 55.104  1202 CST.
United Bulk Coal Terminal (UBCT):  N29 37.100 W89 53.464 
We didn’t notice any particular river pollution from either of these operations.


Mardi Gras Pass (MGRAS):  N29 31.771 W89 43.622  1213 CST.

0469. (NRC #1 -Incident Report # 1036761): N29 28.082 W89 37.638  1216 CST.

Small slick near a gas platform, silvery sheen with rainbow, ~ 10 m x 30 m long. (Actual position was about 1 nm northeast of this point)

0470.  N29 24.838 W89 33.712  1219 CST.
Sheen, unknown source, looked like a 100-m long  thin line just off shore to the east of our position about one mile. We did not take the time to overfly and photograph so did not file an NRC report on this one.

0471. N29 21.417 W89 29.777 1222 CST.
Dredging operation in the MS River.

0472. N29 04.397 W89 07.503 1237 CST.
Deep brown streamers and plumes in the muddy water just offshore, similar to what we first saw in the spring of 2011 in Breton Sound.

Taylor Energy (NRC #2 -Incident Report #1036762): N28 54.552 W88 59.451 (and vicinity) 1245 CST.

This slick is noticeable from many miles away.  It stretched farther than we’ve ever seen it stretch before.  We didn’t notice as much heavy rainbow sheen as we have before, but it stretched north-northeastward farther than we’ve noticed before, at least two miles (2 nm).  Our flight track paralleled the slick and will show its shape as it existed today.

0473.  N28 43.279 W88 31.449  1305 CST.
Small amount of sargassum and patties located just north of a crescent-shaped slick (0474).

0474. (NRC#3 - Incident Report #1036760) N28 42.174 W88 29.147 1306 CST.

Same place we saw a surface slick last Sunday Jan 20 (that waypoint was 0464) -- located about 10 nm southwest of the Macondo area, just south of MC294.  This remains a sizable slick, silvery grey sheen, looks like it could be a natural seep.  bout 15 m wide by 0.5 nm long (northwest to southeast).  Note that this was reported to the NRC last Jan 20 by us as NRC #1036178) and was our waypoint 0464 (N28 40.750 W88 28.729). 

0475. (NRC#4
-Incident Report #1036763) N28 44.825 W88 22.467 1316 CST.

These points -- 0475--0479 -- mark perimeter points of this very large surface sheen near MC253, except that it extended farther to the northeast than 0479, to the line shown by our flight track. This sheen extended more than 7 nm south-to-north and was easily as wide as 1 nm in places. It is considerably larger than we found it to be last Sunday January 20.  At that time, we filed an NRC report #1036177 and stated the following: “Looking northeastward, we see the slick extending southeastward from the ENSCO 8502 rig (~150°).  It extends at least 2 nm in the NW-SE direction.  It is almost 1 nm wide at its NW end (nearer the rig) and tapers to about 0.25 nm wide at its SE end. Metallic-gray streamers, otherwise light sheen, fairly uniform color.”


0476.  N28 47.183 W88 22.397 1317 CST.
(See description for 0475.)

0477.  N28 48.188 W88 22.802 1317 CST.
(See description for 0475.)

0478. N28 49.375 W88 22.952 1318 CST.
(See description for 0475.)


0479. N28 51.013 W88 23.587 1319 CST.
(See description for 0475.)

0480. N29 15.815 W88 57.120 1352 CST.
Buoy in water, but line was floating behind it about 30 m.

0481. N29 50.075 W89 41.939 1415 CST.
Marsh fires - one adjacent to what looked like an abandoned refinery, one north of that in wetlands.


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!


 

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!
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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!) 
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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!

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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!

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

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

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Last but not left!  20130106
Happy Update - 20130311

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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.

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A Letter From Your Admirers! 20121231

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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!   
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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! 
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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.
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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!

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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!  
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Spindletop Scandal and the Search for Scarlett
2
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. 
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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!

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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!

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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!
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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
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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.
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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!

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

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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)
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Chihuahuas "Betty" & "JellyBean"
fly to their rescue in Bremerton, WA!
(2011 April)
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New Year's Rescue:  33 dogs & cats
are flown to rescue in the Pacific Northwest!
(2011 January)
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Hounds fending for themselves for years in Alabama fly to rescue in Arizona!
(2011 Mar)

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

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Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf of Mexico - 2013



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Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf - 2013

Jul19-Aug21 - Wildlife Surveys
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Special Articles

 

2014 Apr 02 - Bayou Corne #16
2013 Nov 24 - Bayou Corne #14
2013 Sep 26
- Bayou Corne #13
2013 Jul22-29
- "Flying Stars" - STKIs
2013 Jul 28
- Bayou Corne #11
2013 Jul 23 - Bayou Corne #10
2013 Jul 10
- Bayou Corne #9
2013 Jun 08
- Bayou Corne #8
2012 May 06 - Bayou Corne #7
2013 Apr 12 - Mayflower, AR Pipeline Spill
2013 Apr 02
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Bayou Corne #6
2013 Mar 23
- IMMS Marine Mammals
2013 Mar 19 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#5

2013 Feb 15
- Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#4
2013 Jan 26
- Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#3
2012 Dec 24 - Bayou Corne Sinkhole-#2
2012 Nov 08 - Tar Sands and Texas
2012 Aug 30 - Hurricane Isaac Conquered
2012 Aug 28 - Hurricane Isaac Arrives!
2012 Aug 13 - Sinkhole in Bayou Corne, LA
2012 Jun 13-Dispersant Spraying Exercise off LA
2012 April - Chronicles of the Endeavor
2012 Dec 10 - How Dilute is Dilute Enough?

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

2012 June
Cool summer Atlantic waters brought us to hundreds of humpback, fin, and minke whale families, plus basking sharks!
NINE days of fantastic footage:
June 15
June 16-17
June 18
June 19
June 20
June 22
June 23
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Dominica - The Nature Island!

2012 May
On Wings Of Care
 flies to the Eastern Caribbean for whales and sea turtles!
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Read more here!

Humpback Whales!

And much more!

Cape Cod, MA 
2011 July
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Our Gift for YOU for 2011!

Click Here to Smile
from your heart, out!
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Aerial Monitoring of the Gulf, 2010

Galapagos Veterinary Support

Galapagos vets do much with little,
thanks to true friends who shipped a TON of supplies and meds from the U.S. in June, 2011.
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Alabama
2011 April --

“Man can no longer live for himself alone.  We must realize that all life is valuable and that we are united to all life. From this knowledge comes our spiritual relationship with the universe.”

-Albert Schweitzer

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