We sailed over the epicenter of Deepwater Horizon, ODYSSEY Gulf Blog (Year 3), Day 20, June 13, 2012

Day 20, Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,
In this my third year at sea in the Gulf. In that time, I have learned that that there are two major keys to biopsy success – freeze pops and snacks. The freeze pops are nothing really but water, sugar and food coloring, but what an amazing delight when you are out baking in the sun.  Or for that matter, pretty much anytime as its always hot here in the Gulf to a person from Maine like me.
They come in lots of pretty colors blue (Josh and Bob’s favorite), pink (Ike, Carolyne, Matt and Sandy’s favorite), green (Hugh’s favorite) and orange (Johnny’s, Tania and mine). But, when on whales, everyone is happy with any color including purple or red. They refresh us and remind us of the kid inside each of us and ready us for the next hour under the sun.
The other key is snacks- chips, cookies, crackers and other delights that reside under the small bench on the salon.  If you lift up the bench seat you find a number of treats that will tempt you all day, but are especially good while on whale watch or as a quick treat when on whales all day. See Tania in the attached series of pictures getting her snacks (she’s really good at it) and then showing Captain Bob just how it is done!
My note is light today because we are worn out. The toll of pounding seas followed by lots of biopsy and sample work in the hot sun caught up to us and folks were just plum worn out. We collected 2 biopsies in the morning, which was followed by internet and array failures that took some time to sort out. We could hear them, but could not find the whales for the rest of the day.
My note is also light because today was also a somber day. We sailed over the epicenter of Deepwater Horizon and remembered that 11 people died here and then the oil started flowing.  This event changed our lives and brought us here into the Gulf for this our third year.
Unlike last year when we came to this spot and found nothing in sight at this site, this year 2 new oil rigs have been installed and are at work. It is remarkable how our society just marches on forward. If one rig explodes and fouls the Gulf – -then we simply build two more rigs in the essentially the same place. Yet, our work is still the only deep water toxicology study in the Gulf and we have yet to raise funds for analyzing our samples. Something seems wrong when our society builds two rigs to replace one that failed before any analysis of the consequences to the ecosystem has been done.  I truly hope these rigs were built to be safer than the last one.
So, for today, better to be light while worn out and staring at 2 new deep water rigs, because otherwise, it might feel like shoveling sand against the tide.  Our quest and efforts are needed now more than ever. We continue on and after admiring a group of dolphins bow riding in the setting sun, eating under the stars and with the ground fault on our array fixed (thanks for the pointers Josh) –  we find ourselves renewed and refreshed and ready to marshal on!
But seriously, we couldn’t do it without the freeze pops and snacks!
Attached are also pictures of the biopsy effort today and our glorious sunset. A sunset that is good for the soul.

Also, attached is a song that spontaneously came up at dinner when the singing started. I was surprised at this one and asked to record it with Ike and Johnny singing a family twist on the words. Its 30 seconds long but shows the camaraderie that continues at dinner so I think it will make many of you smile. It also has a subtle twist that really only my wife and kids would get so I won’t explain. This one’s for you Cathy- enjoy it! Hope the EPA is treating you well.
Ike and Johnny for Cathy mp3-1
Good night.
John
If you want to see our location on Google Maps we are at:
28.43724 N
088.34048 W
If you want to read the previous days of these messages- they are
posted at www.usm.maine.edu/toxicology/gulf and click on “read logs
here” or soon will be.

John Pierce Wise, Sr., Ph.D.

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