PASCAGOULA, Mississippi – NOAA research vessels have been searching for oil since May. Right now, there are six ships in the Gulf, and the Pisces will soon make seven.
The Coast Guard estimates nearly 5 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf. The mission for Pisces is to search the bottom of the Gulf, about a mile below the surface.
Dr. David Valentine is about to take his third cruise to search for oil.
He describes three of the main instruments aboard the Pisces. The first is called the tow sled, which will take pictures of the sea floor. “Basically a sled that we dangle over the side of the boat, just off the sea floor between 9 and 15 feet and we take images of the sea floor to look for oil residing on the sea floor. We can take 2000 images with every 5 hour deployment.”
The second is called the CTD. “We lower over the side to collect water samples, it also tells us how much oil is in the water and how much oxygen is in the water.”
And the third, which will be the work-horse of this mission, the multi-core.
“It’s a coring device known as the multi-core, and that allows us to collect sediment samples to determine if there is oil residing on the surface of the sediment.”
His assumption for the mission?
“I suspect that will be some sort of oil, I just don’t know how much or how obvious it will be.”
Hopefully these instruments and scientists will be able to find the oil and figure out how to clean it up thousands of feet below the surface.