As oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill made its way to shore, three Coastal Living editors took a trip to Mobile, Alabama, in May 2010 to find out firsthand how the region was preparing for its arrival.
“On the way down, we saw sweeping waterscapes and sunny skies. It was hard to imagine that oil was on its way to this beautiful place.” —Sarah Latta, assistant features editor
Photographers and reporters were lined up to take scenic photographs of the Gulf before the oil arrived.
On the morning of day two, editor Sara Peterson and assistant features editor Sarah Latta took a three-hour flight in a single-engine
plane to see the scope of the spill from the air. SouthWings, a nonprofit organization that spreads the word of conservation
through environment-focused flights, provided the tour.
From left: assistant features editor Sarah Latta, SouthWings pilot Dan Luke, and editor Sara Peterson
“Casi Callaway of Mobile Baykeeper was our tour guide for the trip. She was a wealth of knowledge—explaining everything from the geography of Alabama’s coastline to locals’ perspectives on the spill to what needs to happen to save our shorelines.” –Sara Peterson, editor
Dan Luke in the pilot’s seat of the four-seat Cessna 182, with Casi to his left. Since the spill, Dan has flown dozens of journalists, officials, and ocean nonprofit employees to witness the oil from 4,500 feet above sea level.
Coastal Living Editor Sara Peterson, strapped in and ready to fly over the gulf coast.
“I went up in the air the first week and have flown every week since. On the ground, we’ve trained more than 200 people as field observers and are adding 80 per week. They’re our oil-spotters, the first line of defense, and when they see it, we let the clean-up crews know.” –Casi Callaway, Mobile Baykeeper
“One of the most important things we learned while there—only 35 days after the explosion—was just how angry locals were. There they were, the people with the most knowledge of their own shorelines, and they weren’t allowed to do a thing to help.” —Sarah Latta, assistant features editor
“Booms stretched around some of the barrier islands had floated out of place in others, and for some, simply weren’t there.” –Sarah Latta, assistant features editor
“We saw oil that had washed ashore on small barrier islands, plus sheens that stretched in long, narrow trails through the water.” –Sara Peterson, editor
The Coastal Living crew prepares for a boat ride around the bay with local Mobile charter captain Bobby Abruscato, of A-Team Fishing Adventures.
“This photo, with birds lined up on the island and inside of the boom, was very symbolic of the impending fallout.” —Sarah Latta, assistant features editor
“Usually, the dockyard is empty during the day because all of the boats are out fishing. When we visited, fishermen were just waiting around, unsure of when they could return to the water.” –Jacquelyne Froeber, travel editor
“When we first arrived, I felt so blessed to be watching seabirds and dolphins in the water, but then you see a boom and you
realize that this may be the last time for a while that you get to take a clean photo. We all just have to hold onto hope
that we will recover.”—Jacquelyne Froeber, travel editor
From left: travel editor Jacquelyne Froeber, Mobile Baykeeper Casi Callaway, Capt. Bobby Abruscato, editor Sara Peterson, and assistant features editor Sarah Latta