Yesterday when I woke up I felt a pop and then a sharp electrical shock down my right leg. Within an hour I could barely move. I’ve definitely pinched a nerve. Even today my toes on my right foot feel like they have pins and needles, and my calf muscles are clenched. Best remedy is rest, heat, ice and ibuprofen. Normally, that’s what I’d do too.

But then in the evening the Joint Information Center from the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command called and asked me if I wanted a flight out over the controlled burn site — ie the location where the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank. Despite knowing it would be a 3 hour drive roundtrip and likely to be pretty bouncy on the plane, I immediately said yes! How could I not?!!

Sadly, the weather was cloudy and hazy, and the trip was pretty bumpy in parts. So while the pictures aren’t the clearest it was still an amazing opportunity and it is worth the pain I am now enduring (and drug stores here don’t carry over the counter muscle relaxants…oh what I wouldn’t give for some Robax Platinum right now).

Despite that…there were some good pictures. I had been hoping to sell some to the Toronto Star but alas that was not to be. Hopefully there will be more opportunities in the next few weeks.

This is therefore a mostly a pictorial starting with the plane, wetlands, the site itself and some oil visible in the water. There is also a video of the back hatch opening which was very cool. There was one reporter who looked petrified especially when the back was open; I loved it and would have liked to go closer to the edge.

This is the plane we went up on – a Coast Guard C-144. It is pretty loud inside but they provided ear plugs.

Coast Guard plane C-144

The first thing I noticed was how the wetlands looked from the air. It was so clear how much destruction has occurred.  Every 34 minutes the equivalent of a football field of wetlands disappears in Louisiana. In these pictures note the straight lines that represent channels that have been cut through the wetlands for boats and/or pipes.

wetland images


The lighter green in this one is some form of algae.

green wetlands

Because this was a small and fairly casual flight I had the opportunity to go up to the cockpit.




cockpit co pilot

All the thingamajigs

all the gadgets

Me on the plane!

Tanya on the plane

The opening of the hatch

An overview of the site…

response ships

The Helix is one of the production ships that would normally be siphoning oil.


The rig on the back far right is one of the relief wells being drilled.

relief well

Hazy, but these are the two relief wells…

relief wells

Here you can see streams of oily sheen on the water…the white streaks in the bottom right corner are scrapes on the window.

oil sheen

streams of oil

The circled area indicates a patch of thicker oil floating in the water.

red circle marks patch of oil