In summer 2009, in the heart of New Orleans, a 600-foot tanker collided with a 200-foot fuel barge, tearing the barge in half. Several hundred thousand gallons of oil leaked out of the barge and into the fast-flowing Mississippi River, heading quickly towards the ocean. The oil spread down the river in minutes --immediately threatening drinking water intakes and wildlife. Responders sprang into action within hours of the accident. Using computer models and weather forecasts, they determined the path of the spill. With helicopter surveys, they assessed the damage and dispatched cleanup crews. Explore other videos that capture the beauty and mystery of the ocean realm at NOAA Ocean Today. More about the Gulf oil spill can be found in our Gulf Oil Spill featured story.