Monday, July 12, 2010

The Best Part About the BP Oil Leak

Trust me,  I couldn't imagine a worse disaster to hit the Gulf of Mexico other than a hurricane and a major oil leak/spill. I grew up in Florida (on the Atlantic side) and spent time swimming on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. I recall dolphins swimming next to the boat that I took with my Girl Scout troop on our way to an island.

However, one of the most marvelous and captivating part about this oil leak has been watching the undersea robots.
I discovered that you can watch the robot action live via The New York Times. You get a whole stage of deep sea vessels to watch with real scientific names like; The Q4000, The Enterprise, The Boa Deep C, The Viking Poseidon, and (my favorite because it shows the most action) The Ocean Intervention III.

What captured my attention at first was watching the robot arms deploy and move about. Their hook like hands opening and closing, grasping things. I watched and imagined the man or woman behind the controls trying to get the position right. As the robot tried to grasp hooks I too was hooked on the action.

I was lucky enough one evening to capture a robot deploying into the sea. It felt as if I were the robot myself.
 I watched as anonymous engineers put the robot into the water. One thing I like best about watching is that there is no sound. At times I even make my own robot sounds when the arms move around. I know...geeky.

Once down the robot has a lot of work to do. The project for getting this leak contained has become really huge. Let's look at the scale of things:
Some of the activities you see robots doing are as followed:
Holding on to things with their hook-arms:
Keeping an eye on the leak:

Recently they put on a better cap to capture the leaking oil, called a "Top Hat." 
To do so they first took off the old one and cleaned up the surface for the new one. I watched as the robot had a small spinning metal brush, which it used to grind down the metal. 
You would think the time difference would get in the way of viewing the robot action, but these guys seem to be up working at all hours. For example, when it is 4pm Korea time it is 3am Florida time, and I can still catch the robots at work. 

I am glad they are getting a handle on things down there and I know that eventually they will have it stopped. Yet I will be sad to see the live action robot-theatre disappear. Instead,  it would be great to get live views of the robots when they are used for ocean exploration.

Till then I will enjoy my robot-theatre, which as I watch makes me appreciate more and more just how oil is obtained. 

Some of the best imagery I enjoy are scenes where robots can see other robots in the water. I mostly enjoy it when there are lights beaming into the water. I will leave you with this image:


  1. JOYeeeeeeee we don't swim on the shore!! We swim by the shore or near the shore in the water, dear girl! The shore is the land.

    When the robots leave, you can watch the sick dieing sea creatures swim by if any still remain alive in that area. Or the remains of the men blown to bits in the explosion.

  2. Oops sorry about that.

    Yes although I have enjoyed the robot theatre certainly could of survived without seeing it and the devastation the leak caused.


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