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WHOI team in the Gulf of Mexico

Smiles Belie the Trials

Despite smiles on their faces, researchers studying the effects of the 160 million gallon Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in spring 2010 were having anything but a picnic. For two weeks, WHOI scientists (from left) Ben Van Mooy, Chris Reddy, and Sean Sylva wore heavy boots as the decks of the research vessel Endeavor topped 100°F. The stench of oil often wafted over them and the jet-like roars of flares burning off oil and natural gas never ceased. But there were rewards, Reddy said. Water samples collected during the cruise lead to published papers about the oil plume’s composition, the direction of its flow, and the role of microbes in breaking down the oil. (Photo by Cameron McIntyre, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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