Fisherman Documents Underwater Oil Plumes



SUBJECT:   Dispersed oil found in Mississippi Sound off Pass Christian Harbor
DATE:         August 13, 2010
FROM:        Dr. Ed Cake, Gulf Environmental Associates
TO:             All interested parties


On Wednesday, August 11, 2010, I [Ed Cake] and Ross Dodds of Ocean Springs accompanied Mr. James A. "Catfish" Miller, a commercial fisherman, and several other commercial fishermen (Danny Ross and Mark Stewart) on an oil-inspection cruise out of Pass Christian Harbor, Mississippi, on board Mr. Miller's 60-foot shrimping vessel, the Capt. Quinntinn.  We sampled dispersed oil at several locations between the Harbor and the northern tip of Cat Island.
At each location an absorbent Pro-Sorbents Oil-Select #10007 pad was tied to a small grappling hook to form of a cone-shaped drogue and submerged into the water column for 30 to 60 seconds.
When the absorbent pad was immersed into the areas of "black water" it would absorb a yellowish oil mixture that remained on the pad when the water was allowed to drain therefrom.  The oil had a similar color to the oil droplets that were found under the carapace of megalops larvae of blue crabs by Harriet Perry of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory and the University of Southern Mississippi.

When pads were submerged in normal-colored Sound water near Cat Island, no dispersed oil was observed on the pads.  There was a definite difference between the apparent volume of dispersed oil present in the "black water" samples and in samples from the vicinity of Cat Island. 
When the vessel was stopped for sampling, small, 0.5- to 1.0-inch-diameter bubbles would periodically rise to the surface and shortly thereafter they would pop leaving a small oil sheen.  According to the fishermen, several of Bap's Vessels-of-Opportunity (Carolina Skiffs with tanks of dispersants [Corexit?]) were hand spraying in Mississippi Sound off the Pass Christian Harbor in prior days/nights.  It appears to this observer that the dispersants are still in the area and are continuing to react with oil in the waters off Pass Christian Harbor.
The bubbles, including clumps of smaller bubbles, persisted on the Sound surface despite the fact that sea conditions were not generating and surface foam or bubbles.  It was evident to this observer that some organic agent or surfactant was present [dispersants?] that helped to form and sustain the smaller bubbles throughout the "black water" areas.
Please see Ada McMahon" [] account of the same sampling trip along with her photographs below.
Photographs of the pads containing the oil are available at the following URL:

One of the oiled pads collected at latitude 30 degrees, 16.858 minutes North and longitude 89 degrees, 10.494 minutes West, was provided to Harriet Perry for analysis.  That sample will be analyzed by a laboratory in Pensacola, Florida, next week.  The results will be available some time thereafter.

Respectfully submitted,

     Ed Cake
E.W. "Ed" Cake, Jr., Ph.D.
Chief Science Officer and
Biological Oceanographer
Gulf Environmental Associates
2510 Ridge wood Road
Ocean Springs, MS 39564
Cell phone: 228-324-9292
August 13, 2010


PHOTOS: Fishermen find oil and dispersant on Mississippi shrimping and oyster grounds

By Ada McMahon

August 11, 2010


Angered by claims from state and federal officials that Gulf Coast waters are safe and clean, fishermen took their own samples of the waters off of Pass Christian, Mississippi, today.  I had the opportunity to go along and see first hand the results, as well as the thin, oily sheen and bubbles caused by dispersant that streak Mississippi Sound.

The testing method is simple: tie an absorbent [pad] to a weighted hook, then drop it overboard for a minute or two. In all but one of the samples, the rags came up with brown oily substance which the fishermen identify as a mix of crude oil from the BP disaster and toxic dispersants.
The samples were all taken in water that is now open for shrimping.  We also took samples directly over Mississippi's oyster beds, which will likely open on schedule sometime in September.  The first sample, and one of the dirtiest, came less than half a mile out from Pass Christian Harbor, with white sandy beaches as the backdrop.
The 60-foot shrimping boat Capt Quinntinn belongs to fisherman James "Catfish" Miller, who in the past few days has been an outspoken advocate for himself and his fellow Gulf Coast fishermen (see previous posts at and about how these fishermen are organizing and speaking out).
Fishermen "Blue," Danny Ross Jr., Mark Stewart, and Ricky Robin also came along for the ride, along with a scientist [Ed Cake] who will analyze the samples, a filmmaker [Gary Burris] working with Dr. Riki Ott (, and me.
Tonight Catfish brought the samples to a community meeting in nearby Fiberfill, to show the assembled fishermen and families.  During the meeting, the fishermen unanimously supported a petition calling for the firing of Dr. Bill Walker, who is responsible for opening the fishing grounds as head of the Department of Marine Resources in Mississippi.
I'll be posting videos from the trip and the meeting on Bridge the Gulf [] shortly, stay tuned.
We need you to support our oil spill response and other work.


© Copyright 2010 Save Our Gulf All rights reserved.