Dispatches E-News: 10 Months of Pain, Rock the Laser & Eradicating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (10/09/19)

A Tale of Two Spills (Part 1)

Settled more than 400 hundred years ago by Spanish conquistadors, Campeche, Mexico is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For centuries, the city relied on the bounty of the Gulf for its economic stability—and local fisherman still mine its waters today. But, in 1979, the community’s longstanding way of life was almost destroyed forever, when the Ixtoc oil well exploded. The impact was immediate and traumatic; and the disaster continued to wreak havoc over the 10 months it took to cap it. For 30 years, this was the largest offshore oil spill in history—until another blowout took its place.


GulfCast: The LASER Cruise: Rough Weather

The Gulf of Mexico isn’t the stormiest place in the world, but 2016 was an El Nino year and several severe storms that created waves as high as 10 feet rocked the LASER crew. Each member reacted to the extreme conditions differently. Getting seasick together is quite a bonding experience.


A Dutch ‘boy genius’ said he could get the ocean to clean itself. Turns out, he’s right.

When he was just 18, Dutch inventor and entrepreneur Boyan Slat laid out his idea for cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an enormous and still-growing island of plastic three times the size of France that was first discovered in 1997. Trash collects in that particular spot because of a gyre — a swirling vortex of ocean currents — that draws marine debris together. Estimates were given that it would take 79,000 years to clean it up. Slat believed that with the right technology and approach, the garbage patch could be gone in just five.


Photo Courtesy of The Ocean Cleanup.

Science Continually Evolves
Science continually evolves. To see the latest research updates on topics in this newsletter, please visit the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative web site.

The Story of GoMRI
Not long after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) was created. Designed to fund an investigation of the largest offshore oil spill in history, GoMRI quickly became one of the most successful research collaborations in marine science history. Today, as the initiative’s efforts draw to a close, the breadth of research is unprecedented. It’s an amazing story—one that started with a single phone call.
Click here to watch.

The Dispatches from the Gulf Documentaries
In the aftermath of Deepwater Horizon, a global team of scientists is working together to understand its environmental impact on humans, wildlife, and the ecosystem with the ultimate goal of learning how to better cope with future oil spills. Follow them over 10 years of remarkable research.

* Dispatches from the Gulf 1: Science • Community • Recovery
* Dispatches from the Gulf 2: Research • Innovation • Discovery
* Dispatches from the Gulf 3: Ten Years After Deepwater Horizon

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Dispatches short videos featuring human interest stories and exploring cutting-edge scientific case studies about the Gulf of Mexico are available on YouTube.

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Mensajes del Golfo de México
A Spanish subtitled version of Dispatches 1 is available via streaming.
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Access the Archive
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Dispatches is made possible by a generous grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).
Additional funding provided by the Wallace Genetic Foundation and the Farvue Foundation.

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