UM/CIMAS and NOAA/AOML Scientists Locate Oil Plume, University of Miami News Release:
Using these sophisticated tools, the team decided that the most likely pathway for oil to reach the Florida Keys was for it to be pulled into a counterclockwise rotating frontal eddy in the northeast corner of the Loop Current, and then south along the eastern frontal zone of the Loop Current to the Dry Tortugas. ...
As they traveled into the eddy field they saw areas of sheen, but no tar balls.
Changing course to the south, however they found an area of strong flow convergence within a southward flowing jet that resulted from flow being pulled into the eddy. Knowing that this was just the type of oceanographic feature that would concentrate any floating material, including oil, they followed it. At about the same time a U.S. Coast Guard flight that had been sent to visually survey the area spotted what they thought could be an oil slick in the area and contacted the scientists aboard the Walton Smith to have the ship get a closer look at the slick.
"As we approached, we found an extensive oil slick that stretched about 20 nm (20 miles) along the southward flowing jet which merged with the northern front of the Loop Current. ...
"The combination of models and satellite images, along with our shipboard observations and ROFFS daily analysis had helped us to identify and study this previously unidentified oil plume located off Florida's southwest coast and heading toward the Tortugas."
NOAA forecast: Oil Boundary 50 miles from Florida Keys by June 15
Trajectories indicate that some of these sheens may continue southward along the eastern edge of Eddy Franklin.