OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO-- From up above, it appears to be a delicate dance between ships and platforms at the site of the broken wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico. Far below the surface though, it's an interruption in flow, as a cap appears to be holding back the flow of oil -- one mile below.
"Clearly, the last two days have shown some encouraging results, but these are just early steps," said BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles, during a technical briefing on Sunday.
Eyewitness News flew along with the Coast Guard on Sunday over the heart of the oil spill and saw evidence of some progress being made. It appeared that the amount of oil escaping to the surface had been drastically reduced.
"We clearly have less oil on the water in the Gulf of Mexico, because not only have we stopped new oil coming in, we've been recovering the oil that was out there," Suttles said.
Part of that oil recovery effort involves the use of skimmers. That includes some which belong to the Marine Spill Response Corporation, a nearly 20-year-old non-profit that deals in cleaning up oil spills.
"We have 12 oil spill response vessels. These are 210 foot ships that come from as far away as Portland, Maine, down the Atlantic coast, and really from as far away as San Francisco, California and the LA-Long Beach area," said Judith Roos of Marine Spill Response.
Roos said the vessels don't just collect the oil, but they also carry a device that separates oil from water. It allows each ship to remove about 4,000 barrels of oil material at a time.
"If you're bringing in oil-water product on board the ship, you are then able to run the oil water through the separators and then decant the water because it's cleaned down to 15 parts per million, back into the boomed environment."
It is an environment that, despite the current cap, remains vulnerable to any oil already floating out there.