In the sunglint region of a satellite image-where the mirror-like reflection of the sun gets blurred into a wide, bright strip-any differences in the texture of the water surface are enhanced. Oil smoothes the water, making it a better "mirror." Oil-covered waters are very bright in this image, but, depending on the viewing conditions oil-covered water may look darker rather than brighter.
The relative brightness of the oil from place to place is not necessarily an indication of the amount of oil present. Any oil located near the precise spot where the sun's reflection would appear, if the surface of the Gulf were perfectly smooth and calm, is going to look very bright in these images. The cause of the dark patch of water in the upper left quadrant of the image is unknown. It may indicate the use of chemical dispersants, skimmers or booms, or it may be the result of natural differences in turbidity, salinity or organic matter in the coastal waters.