In response to the BP oil spill, Sanibel Sea School has acquired a Turner Designs fluorometer with oil monitoring capabilities. We will begin monitoring for the presence of oil in Lee County waters in early June 2010.
Sanibel Sea School’s fluorometer can detect oil quantities as low as one part per million in seawater. It is more compact and highly mobile than comparable equipment in Lee County, so it provides the advantage of monitoring oil from aboard boats as well as from shore. The fluorometer can also be used to map phytoplankton blooms, which will allow scientists at partner institutions to assess the correlation between oil contamination and phytoplankton blooms.
We are interested in two components of oil monitoring – we want to help understand the impacts of oil contamination in our marine environments, and we want to keep Lee County residents safe.
Sanibel Sea School will ensure the safety of summer camp participants by sampling local waters regularly. We will be able to determine with fine precision whether the water we are engaging in has oil contamination. The fluorometer will allow us to ensure that our clients are not exposed to oil.
Check this page frequently for updated information regarding the presence of oil in Lee and Collier county waters.
18 July 2010
Again, thwarted by strong easterly winds and big seas. We were able to sample along shore of Sanibel Island and west of Marco Island. In all sites sampled, we found no oil-related hydrocrabons.
17 July 2010
Rough seas prevented us from sampling today. We will try again tomorrow.
4 July 2010
There was no oil present in the waters of Lee and Collier Counties where we sampled today. Rough seas and strong thunderstorms, but no oil.
Strong thunderstorms prevented our sampling today.
The Gulf of Mexico is warm (31 degrees C), clear and oil free offshore from Naples and Sanibel and Captiva Islands today.
We sampled from Naples to Captiva today and found the Gulf of Mexico to be beautiful, very clear with more than 30 feet of visibility and no oil. The Gulf is spectacular. If all days in the field could be this good. In the three weeks we have been sampling, we have found no oil, nor any harmful algal blooms.
We sampled about 5 nautical miles south of the Sanibel Lighthouse today. No oil was found at any depth. The ocean is beautiful and pristine.
We sampled the waters offshore from Sanibel and Naples today. Happily, there is no oil in our waters right now. The Gulf of Mexico is just fine and beautiful today. Many large schools of flying fish, but no dolphins today.
The water temperature is 86 degrees F, or 30 degrees C. Such a drastic change from our frigid winter.
It was a good day for offshore swimming to cool off from the toils of plankton tows, fluorometry and water sampling. There is something thrilling about jumping into the clear, pristine ocean with nothing on the horizon. Who said science is always serious stuff?
We are finding it difficult to obtain a sample of crude oil from the blowout. We need an oceanic sample of the oil to calibrate our fluorometer for more accurate measurements. Kind of ironic that we cannot easily get our hands on a liter of oil that is spewing into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate that must be measured in tens of thousands of barrels.
At 06:45 we were able to get out and collect phytoplankton samples and measure for oil. The phytoplankton samples will ship off to the Florida Wildlife Research Institute for analysis tomorrow. We traveled for more than 50 nautical miles and collected samples at stations along the way.
There was no oil and the Gulf of Mexico was beautiful, blue and teeming with life. Dolphins everywhere, sea turtles, flying fish and many schools of mackerel. Just like it ought to be. We will post the data and coordinates, but we are still working on a map interface.
This afternoon we will head offshore for a preliminary sampling of oil and phytoplankton. We will post these data, but it is only available in a numerical format. In a short time, we should have the interactive map portal functioning.
Thwarted by big waves from a strong SW wind. The fastest headway we cold make was 5 knots. At that speed, it would take 3 hours to get out to the sampling stations. We will go again early on Sunday morning before the winds pick up heavily.
We have conducted our first sampling of oil and phytoplankton today. We did not find oil. We are in the process of creating an interactive map-based data portal that results of the phytoplankton and oil monitoring will be posted on. Please continue to check back for this tool.