The Gulf Oil Spill began on April 20 as the result of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. Oil has been gushing out at alarming rates since then, becoming the largest offshore spill in U.S. history and one of the most devastating disasters along the Gulf Coast. Communities along the gulf that were still in the process of recovering from hurricanes Katrina and Rita were dealt another devastating blow. With the deadly oil swamping the coast and destroying ecosystems, the livelihoods of many communities and subsistence individuals have been threatened and left these individuals with great frustration and sorrow and little hope or faith for the future.
The Gulf of Mexico has 1631 miles of coastline and over 16,000 miles of shoreline (including bays and inland waterways). source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Nearly ½ of all US coastal wetlands – over 5 million acres – are located along the Gulf. source: EPA
The coastal plains of the western Gulf are used by nearly all of the migratory land bird species of the eastern US, as well as many western species. source: US Geological Survey
From New Orleans seafood restaurants to Florida vacation rentals, the Gulf’s annual tourist industry is estimated at over $100 billion. source: USA Today
The Gulf waters are home to 73% of the shrimp and 59% of the oysters harvested in the United States each year and a total of 1.3 billion pounds of seafood valued at over $650 million. source: EPA
60,000 barrels: The amount of oil believed to be gushing from the spill. That's twelve times more than the original estimate of 5,000 barrels a day. In all, 60,000 barrels a day means an estimated 2.5 million gallons a day is leaking into the Gulf. (Source: Business Week)
130 miles long and 70 miles wide: Size of the oil slick as of May 17. The slick continues to grow and move. (Source: New Orleans Times Picayune)