Update March 20, 2011: A Coast Guard officer with a command center in Morgan City, LA, said today the Coast Guard has confirmed that oil is not coming from the Deepwater Horizon well but that they have found what appear to be smaller oil slicks in the Gulf. Their investigation into reports of large oil slicks is continuing. Additional photos and information from pilots John Wathen and Bonnie Schumaker who flew over the area yesterday are expected to be released today.
The Coast Guard is investigating reports of a potentially large oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico not far from the Deepwater Horizon site. According to a knowledgeable source, the slick was sighted by a helicopter pilot on Friday and is about 100 miles long. A fishing boat captain said he went through the slick yesterday and it was strong enough to make his eyes burn.
According to the Times Picayune, the Coast Guard has confirmed they are investigating a potentially large 100 mile slick about 30 miles offshore. They are going to a site near the Matterhorn well site about 20 miles north of the BP Deepwater Horizon site, according to the paper. The Matterhorn field includes includes a deepwater drilling platform owned by W&T Technology. It was acquired last year from TotalFinaElf E&P.
Independent pilots are attempting to reach the slick today. Bonnie Schumaker with Wings of Care reported she saw a slick two days ago and is attempting to reach the site.
Photos of oil slick in Gulf off Grand Isle, LA, March 18-19, 2011
Jerry Moran / Stuart Smith oilspillaction.com
Also, another Louisiana fisherman reports that fresh oil is coming ashore near South Pass, LA, and that cleanup crews are laying new boom near the beach. He also reports that cleanup crews in four-wheeled vehicles were patrolling the beaches near the marsh filled coast spraying a substance on the beach.
Cleanup crews are still operating along the marshes and beach areas of Louisiana and other gulf states. The Bay Jimmy of Louisiana's Barataria Bay remains heavily oiled.
Oil is also being discovered in more populated areas too. With spring break coming, students and tourists are already heading to the Gulf to escape the winter up north. Recently a group of Missouri college kids came across oil off the beaches of Pensicola. "We were fishing with nets for shells, we call it shelling, and it was just brown, I thought it was shark poop at first," one incredulous student told local Pensacola station WEAR-TV.
"It kind of did surprise me with all the efforts I thought BP was making to clean up but obviously as you can see, there's still so much to do," said another.
Check out the entire TV report here.
More spring breakers will likely come in contact with oil as they migrate in greater numbers to the Gulf. Residents across the coast complain they continue to see oily sheen and a white dispersant like mix washing in, leaving unusual blobs of brown foam that sometimes shine like tiny rainbows on the shore.