NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson departed Galveston, Texas, June 15 to continue research on the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill's impact on the Gulf of Mexico. During the three-week mission, the research vessel will use sophisticated acoustic and water chemistry monitoring instruments to detect and map submerged oil in coastal areas and in the deep water surrounding the BP well head.
The 208-ft. ship will also take water chemistry measurements and samples in the vicinity of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and collect air samples in the areas around the well head and downwind of the spill site.
The mission will build upon research conducted in the vicinity of the spill by the Thomas Jefferson June 3-11 and NOAA Ship Gordon Gunter May 27-June 4. Aboard each ship, teams from NOAA, universities, marine science institutions and other federal agencies collected water samples and employed advanced methods for detecting submerged oil while gathering oceanographic data in the area's waters.
NOAA ships Gordon Gunter and Pisces, one of NOAA's newest research vessels, are also under way as part of an ongoing effort to collect valuable data about marine mammals, sea turtles, sea birds, fish and other marine life in the Gulf. In addition to providing baseline data, the information gathered during the missions will help researchers and resources managers better understand the spill's impact on marine species and their habitat. Another NOAA ship, Oregon II, will depart Pascagoula, Miss., this week to conduct an annual shrimp stock assessment survey in the Gulf.
Meanwhile, specialized NOAA aircraft operating out of Alabama, Florida and Louisiana continue to support the Deepwater Horizon response.
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