Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, May 2010

In late April 2010 I was on a road trip hauling equipment from San Diego, CA to Chapel Hill, NC from a recent research cruise to Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California. Just before we left San Diego, BP's Deepwater Horizon wellhead exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, tragically killing 11 workers and spilling what would be over 100 million gallons of oil into the ocean after a leak that would take 87 days to stop. My graduate advisor, Prof. Andreas Teske, called me during the road trip and asked if I would be willing to stop in Atlanta and fly back to New Orleans to get on the first research cruise to assess how the oil was affecting the marine ecosystem. I said yes, stopped at the laboratory of Prof. Samantha Joye at UGA to get some supplies, and went out on the R/V Pelican to collect some samples near the oil spill. What was most striking to me was all of the different types of oil contamination from one disaster like this: thick crude oil slicks, surface sheen, chocolate mousse, deep red just beneath the surface, and flocculated particles. I should also mention that while I am smiling in a few of the photos, I am not pleased with the situation.