A tale of two Gulf spills: A research consortium of 17 institutions from 5 countries studying the impacts of oil spills on the Gulf of Mexico.
Crossing under the Skyway Bridge into Tampa Bay represents the symbolic end of the OneGulf Expedition – a 40 day voyage of discovery of the biology and geology of the Gulf of Mexico. Our travels throughout the Gulf took us over 4,000 miles and resulted in literally thousands of samples of fish, sediments, water and plankton. In one sense the cruise is over, but in another sense it is just beginning.
The really hard work of cataloging, analyzing and interpreting the significance of these results starts now. Dozens of scientists, technicians from Europe, Mexico, Canada and the USA will spend years refining our understanding of how the Gulf works and how mega oil spills like Deepwater Horizon and IXTOC can impact such a large and diverse ecosystem.
I am deeply appreciative of the professionalism, comradery and enthusiasm of the crew of the Weatherbird II – Captain Boomer, mates Patrick and Andrew, engineers Al and George, “deck Boss” Chris, and our chefs Thomas and Patrick. All of the cruise participants pitched in to help in the various tasks, many learning new skills and seeing things through new sets of eyes of the various disciplines represented in the science program.
I understand now why such multinational expeditions are rare – it is hard to muster the financial resources, government permissions and the logistics of such a huge undertaking. I thank the Mexican and US State Departments for allowing us permission to sample such a large swath of the Gulf. A special shout out to the GoMRI Board for their faith in us and their support, without which this would not have been possible. A special thanks to my understanding wife of almost 40 years. Joni has gotten used to my love of the sea and I know the strain all of our families and partners feel keep our home lives going in our absence. Finally, all of us on the ship have appreciated hearing from those reading the blog posts and keeping up with our travels – your interest has inspired us.
Well done to all!