PRIMO's Horizon Oil Spill Report - May 6, 2010© Photos by Mark Miller © Hi-Res Source
Welcome. I am Mark P Miller, P.E. from Gautier, MS. I kept hearing Media Hype about the Oil Spill about to come ashore, and even my path out of the West Pascagoula River was being blocked by Oil Booms. The Weather was laying down, so I decided to go take a look for myself in order to plan for what my homestead may encounter soon. I took my son Luke (12 Years Old) out of school to assist me on this journey. Initially I thought I would get out about 20-30 miles and find a bunch of oil and come back. However, I was prepared to spend the night and go as far as necessary to determine the extent of the situation. We ended up going all the way to the DeepWater Horizon Spill Site, 105 miles away (Straight Line). Our Trip encompassed 237 nautical miles, 27.5 hours, and 106 gallons of fuel.
The Oil Spill happened on April 20 and this Trip left the evening of May 5 and continued thru May 6. To summarize my findings, I believe the damage and forecasted damage is being way over exaggerated. While any Oil Spill should not be taken lightly, we found very little evidence of contamination until I reached about 30 miles from the Incident Site (75 miles from my home). In addition, most of what we found looked more like brown algae than oil. I believe Mother Nature has some very strong recuperation properties which is evidenced by the extreme Bioluminescence observed. I have never seen such strong Bioluminescence in my entire life (I am 50 years old). I hear that there is oil feeding bacteria and I can only assume this bacteria is what is creating this Bioluminescense. Also, most of what we did find was collecting in the Tidelines and there was not much evidence in between.
Our trip findings are summarized on a chart in the first picture below. Pictures and Video were also taken. The complete Video is in 4 parts, uploaded to Youtube. We also have a summary excert that is uploaded in 1 part. We brought back a piece of Floatsom that looks like a piece of floatation that is saturated with Crude. We also brought back 2 water bottles with samples of the brown algae looking oil. We caught fish and made a dive about 30 miles from the spill site (Salt-Dome) that shows life is abundant and flurishing. Even in the oil saturated areas fish seem undaunted by the incident. Portugese Man-O-War Jelly Fish float on the surface and did seem affected, but still alive. The fish that live among its tentacles seemed unaffected. Even the crude encrusted floatsom had crabs living on it. We found a patch of Sargassum at the spill site that was heavily contaminated, but even it had some sea life in it. Again, there was a multitude of fish swimming under this Sargassum. Another point to note is that a signifcant portion of this brown algae looking oil is below the surface. Particles of it can be seen going down through the water column. On our dive, 30 miles away, these particulates penetrated to a depth of about 40 feet. These particulates will not be captured at all by the deployed Oil Booms. Also note that we observed usual numerous sealife including, Turtles (2), Dolphins (>24), Sunfish (Mola Mola), Crabs, Krill, Jelly Fish, Sharks, Amberjack, Cobia, Flying Fish, etc. We caught some nice fish, but we did not even bring an ice chest on this trip and brought nothing home.
Some say this incident should be cause to cease all oil drilling and perhaps that is why this situation has exploded into more than it should be. They should take note that on my chart below that all those squares are Oil Rigs. There are over 30,000 Oil Rigs in the Gulf that have operated without incident for years. In addition, the Horizon was a cutting edge state-of-the-art piece of drilling equipment. It does not anchor to the bottom, but hovers above its target using computers, GPS equipment, and Thrusters. It is capable of drilling in up to 10,000 feet of water. If anything, we should learn from this incident to make it safer to use this kind of equipment. At the least, the only ban or increased regulations should be on deep water drilling. Perhaps the Oil Companies are pushing the envelope too far. Had this incident happened in less than 500 feet of water, I believe there would have been little problems in closing up the leak. The better question to ask is, "Do we really need to spend this kind of money and risk to drill in such deep water?".
Bottom line is that I am no longer taking the threat so seriously. I expect "Summer-as-Usual" to be in full force.
Book a fishing trip with me and you won't be dissappointed.
Interactive Oil Spill Map from WLOX & Google. Some good info here.
Pictures of Horizon as She Burns and Sinks
Oil Slick Forecast Maps
Gulf Islands National Seashore Status
Blog with some Great Photos
I still have some Videos to compile, but it is hard to make time. I may post some more in a few days.