We departed Pascagoula, Mississippi this afternoon and will spend eight days in the northern Gulf of Mexico aboard the NOAA Ship Pisces. We’re carrying a NOAA crew of 24 and a scientific complement of nine scientists from Texas A&M University and the University of California at Santa Barbara as part of a Federal Unified Command project to track the fate of oil from the Deepwater Horizon/BP spill in the deep water of the Gulf.
Our portion of the project will focus on locating submerged natural gas that was emitted with the oil. We’ll be measuring the temperature and salinity at selected spots in the Gulf of Mexico and measuring the dissolved oxygen in the water. Scientists will also collect water samples and analyze them for chemicals that would indicate the presence of natural gas and oil, as well as the dilution and decomposition of these products.
Incidentally, this is the third Deepwater Horizon mission in the Gulf of Mexico for the Pisces this summer. The vessel, under the command of NOAA Corps CDR Jeremy Adams, first embarked on a seafood safety sampling mission in June and then conducted acoustic monitoring for oil and gas releases near the well head in July and August. We’ll be posting log entries throughout the expedition so stay tuned to learn more about the ship, the people on it, our research, and more!