In late September and early October 2011, FLOE flew in coordination with the R/V McArthur II to survey epipelagic organisms (juvenile and adult small pelagic fish and gelatinous zooplankton) in the surface waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico potentially affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and in surrounding areas. FLOE was able to penetrate to > 30 m in offshore waters and 20 - 30 m on the shelf, except for the Mississippi River plume, where penetration was < 20 m. Few dense schools were detected, and those were generally found on the shelf. Several of these were positively identified as aggregations of moon jellies (Aurelia sp.). Large numbers of single targets were detected, especially off the shelf. Generally, more schools and single targets were detected at night than during the day, suggesting diurnal migration. Other features, including large layers and plumes were also observed. The layers are probably phytoplankton, but some of the plume structures might be oil from seeps. Comparison with the data from the surface vessel will be used in the final analysis to confirm the identity of the features detected by FLOE. More Program Info
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