Sampling Gulf Stream for Impacts of Deep Horizon Oil Spill

Arrows indicate locations where water has been sampled to analyze potential impact of the Deep Horizon oil spill. The Sea Surface Temperature, indicated by color, allows us to locate the course of the Gulf Stream.

Prior to sailing, the Ecosystem Monitoring Cruise received a request from the Marine Chemistry Branch of the NEFSC to sample Gulf Stream surface water for analysis of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Even though our cruise track may seem a long way from the Gulf of Mexico, the southeast and northeast continental shelves may eventually be impacted by the spill (  If or when oil enters the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico, that oil could be transported to the Florida Current, which becomes the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream flows along the shelf edge of the southeastern United States and feeds into the open Atlantic Ocean at Cape Hatteras, NC.

Our southern most station is just north of Cape Hatteras, where the Gulf Stream is very near the coast before it turns east-northeast. Each day we receive Satellite Sea Surface Temperature from Mid-Atlantic Region Coastal Ocean Observing System (MARCOOS with University of Delaware and Rutgers University).  These images allow us to pinpoint the location of the Gulf Stream near Cape Hatteras.

We collected surface water at several locations for oil analysis.  Glass jars were lowered just below the water’s surface and brought back on deck.  The jars were placed in the freezer, and the water will be analyzed when we return to shore.

Our team brings glass containers of water samples aboard the Delaware II. (Photo by Morgan Gelinas/SUNY Stoney Brook.)

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