Day 14: Preparing for the Plume - Oceana USA
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August 26, 2010

Day 14: Preparing for the Plume

While Oceana’s senior campaign communications manager Dustin Cranor gets a much-deserved break on land, Pacific administrative assistant Will Race will be sending us updates from the boat for the next few weeks. Here’s Will’s first post:

Wednesday brought heat, humidity and eight new Oceana staff members, who will take part in a two-week oil plume experiment. Alongside Vice President of Oceana Europe, Xavier Pastor, the experiment will be led by Pacific Director, Susan Murray and Pacific Science Director, Dr. Jeff Short. The team will head out Friday to begin the study.

The Oceana Latitude also had to say goodbye to ROV operator Matthias Gorny and Oceana Pacific office staff Cayleigh Allen. The two embarked on a three day journey to Monterey, California, where they will participate in the Oceana Pacific California Current expedition and use the ROV to document important ecological areas of Monterey Bay.

Aboard the Oceana Latitude the new team met to familiarize themselves with the boat and discuss the experiment that will be taking place in the days to come. Plans are to document the spatial extent of at least one suspected subsurface plume of oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

Dr. Short is using one of the methods he learned while he was the lead chemist for the Exxon Valdez clean-up. His approach for assessing the spatial extent of subsurface oil involves the deployment of 40 moorings. A surface buoy with a 5/16 inch leaded line will be attached to an anchor on the seafloor. As the line descends there will be one test strip attached at 100 meter intervals. The test strips are specifically designed to absorb hydrocarbons from the oil blow out. 

Over 14,000 pounds (!) of gear has arrived and the moorings are being assembled. Next, the Latitude will set sail for the Deepwater Horizon and the experiment will commence — stay tuned.