A persistent, mysterious "oil sheen" in the Gulf of Mexico near the site of BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster grew to more than seven-miles long and one-mile wide during a recent stretch of calm seas, based on aerial observations made by a former NASA physicist turned environmental activist.
"We had maybe three or four days (of calm weather) and that's all it took for the stuff to build up considerably," Bonny Schumaker, the physicist who now runs the non-profit On Wings of Care, which makes regular flights over regions of the Gulf affected by the 2010 oil spill.
In a flight report from Jan. 27 posted on the group's website, she described the oily expanse as "huge."
Schumaker first noticed the sheen in September 2012, when it was also reported by BP to the National Response Center, the point of contact for all oil spills and other discharges into the environment. Since then, BP has inspected the well site four times with underwater robots and found it secure.