Annual Convention

Annual Convention October 3-6

The AAEC and Association of Canadian Cartoonists will be teaming up with the Université du Québec à Montréal for a 3-day celebration political cartoonists, October 3-6, 2024.

Online registration coming soon!

Oil Spill: Shots from a Helicopter

By J.D. Crowe

June 22, 2010


been drawing about the oil spill daily, and have been hoping for a chance to
see the thing in real life. My opportunity June 19, courtesy of the U.S. Coast
Guard, based at Ground Zero in Mobile.

flew out of the mouth of Mobile Bay about 120 miles to the “The Source,” the
name given to the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion where the
wild well gushes.

sign of oil was about 35 miles out. An oily sheen looked like a gathering of
ghosts on the water. Soon, reddish streaks of oil were also visible with the

Cathy Gross, who reported the oil sightings via radio, said the streaks would
be hard to collect and skimming boats had larger patches to worry about. We
soon saw the larger patches.

little further ahead, the streaks turned into clumpy designs, like a red
Rorschach test in the green water, or vomit on a school room floor.

first clue we were near the source was not in the water, but in the air. Fumes.
The action started heating up within 5-10 miles of the well. An invisible cloud
of petroleum fumes hovered over a party of skimming boats, cutting paths in a
large field of thick sheen.

we were at the well. Surprisingly, the deep cobalt blue water was fairly clear
of gunk and sported only a thin layer of sheen. We were expecting this to be
the gunkiest site on on the mission. Pilot Gross said the word from BP was that
the dispersants were breaking the oil up at the leak, cutting down on surface

ship Discoverer Enterprise sits atop the well, collecting oil and burning it.
Oil is also being burned at a second burner alongside the ship. They look like
two fire-breathing monsters in the ocean. The well ship and burner are flanked
on each side by the relief wells.

circling the fiery theater a few times, we headed back to Mobile Bay. By the
time we passed over the largest gunky patch we saw on the trip in, a U.S. Coast
Guard ship was inspecting the mess and awaiting skimmer boats.

Gulf Shores, the water was blue and the beaches seemed clean and lined with sun
bathers. But no swimmers. Several hundred feet away from the shore in Orange
Beach, white boats, looking like private yachts, patrolled the water in teams
of two. Boom stretched between the boats as they tried to isolate and corral
thin sheets of oily sheen.

this day, I did not see a huge oil slick of doom headed our way. Our pilots
said the scene is different every day. But for the most part, the ocean is
doing the best job of breaking down the oil.

until there are skimmer boats attacking every drop of oil slick in the Gulf,
we're not doing enough. And until the wild leak is stopped, The Source will
continue to be a Sore Spot.


See this also on J.D. Crowe's blog:


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