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August 17, 2010

Obama’s neighbors

BY: Xavier Pastor


© OCEANA / Eduardo Sorensen


As we had predicted, and after a night of sailing, we reached the bay of Port Saint Joe, a small port at the westernmost tip of Florida, at the crack of dawn. At the local marina, they had kindly agreed to receive the Fedex and UPS packages that were sent to us over night from a couple of businesses in California and New Jersey with parts to repair our submarine robot. Sometimes, incredibly enough, these things turn out right. We purchased the parts by phone. They told us that they would be in a tiny port at the other end of a huge country the next morning, and there they were. On top of this, when we mounted them on the ROV, it worked again without a hitch. The diagnosis had been right and all the intermediate steps were successful. Sometimes you’re tempted to reconcile with the system.

Since we were staying in Port Saint Jo, we used the time to dive around a shipwreck 15 miles from the Latitude’s mooring. The Latlong, and intermediate-sized auxiliary boat, took the gear to the diving spot 25 meters deep. Around the sunken ship, which acts as a lure for many marine organisms, the divers were able to film arrow crabs, butterfly fish, sole, gray triggerfish, sea anemones…

This area is very close to the place that president Obama chose last week to spend a vacation, take a dip in the water and eat local fish to show that it is not polluted. That is how he was trying to aid in recovering tourist-related economic activity in that area.

What is certain is that the effects of oil are still not very evident in this area, but researchers are already detecting the arrival of a major share of oil particles in areas of the Gulf much farther east that what was formerly believed. These particles are already having a toxic effect on some microorganisms.

Once we had the divers aboard, we headed toward our new target, the Destin Dome, an area whose seabed is home to numerous abandoned oil wells. Our aim is to explore them with the submarine robot.