Mystery Sheen Near Deep Water Horizon Site

Oil sheen in the Gulf of Mexico, as seen on Sept. 21, 2012. (NOAA photo)

Oil sheen in the Gulf of Mexico, as seen on Sept. 21, 2012. (NOAA photo)

In September an oil sheen about four miles long had appeared in the Gulf of Mexico near the Deep Water Horizon well site.  The sheen was originally spotted on a satellite image from BP.  That oil from the sheen matches the oil from Deep Water Horizon site.

On December 15, remotely operated vehicles were sent to the Deepwater Horizon wreckage and the surrounding area.

“No apparent source of the surface sheen has been discovered by this effort,” said Capt. Duke Walker, Federal On-Scene Coordinator for Deepwater Horizon. “Next steps are being considered as we await the lab results of the surface and subsurface samples and more detailed analysis of the video shot during the mission.”

But of unfortunately, “The sheen is not feasible to recover” said Walker, but “does not pose a risk to the shoreline” Shoreline? What about the open ocean ecosystem?

Video of the ROV inspections can be found at the following links:

Well Heads


Riser Pipe

Containment Dome

Dr. M (1720 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.