Two Years After Deepwater Horizon


Although it’s been two years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the people and wildlife of the Gulf of Mexico are still feeling the impacts of the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Many of EarthShare’s member charities have been working in the Gulf since the disaster, including scientists, doctors, policymakers and economists who are documenting the long-term effects of the spill. Here’s what they’re finding:


Deformed aquatic life: “Louisiana fishers have pulled up entire nets of eyeless shrimp… Fish and shrimp have tumors and lesions. Such deformities happened even before the spill, but the high number of diseased and deformed animals being found after the spill shock both fishers and scientists. In some areas after the spill, a startling 50% of fish have these lesions.” - Oceana

Sick dolphins: “Dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico are dying in unprecedented numbers. This month marks a record-shattering 26 consecutive months of above-average dolphin strandings. Only 5 percent of the stranded dolphins were recovered alive and their prognosis was usually poor.” – Restore the Mississippi River Delta

Health impacts on humans: “Fishermen, cleanup workers, and kids report strange rashes, coughing, breathing difficulty, eye irritation, and a host of other unexplained health problems that have persisted in the years since the disaster.” – Natural Resources Defense Council

Damaged coral reefs: “After months of laboratory work, scientists say they can definitively finger oil from BP’s blown-out well as the culprit for the slow death of a once brightly colored deep-sea coral community in the Gulf of Mexico that is now brown and dull.” – Associated Press

Declined fisheries: “Crabbers are harvesting 75 percent fewer crabs than in years before the spill, and the crabs they do catch are often dead, discolored, and riddled with holes or missing sections of their shells.” – Defenders of Wildlife

Contaminated zooplankton: “Contaminated zooplankton were actually chemically fingerprinted with certainty back to origins from the Deepwater Horizon blowout. And since zooplankton serve as food for baby fish and shrimp, they help move oil contamination and pollutants up the food chain.” – Defenders of Wildlife

Stagnant economy: “Seasonally-adjusted unemployment numbers for nineteen metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) adjacent to or on the Gulf of Mexico show that while some metro areas reported declines in unemployment between May 2010 and May 2011, most did not.” – Environmental Defense Fund


Learn more: In Deep Water: Weak Governance and the Gulf Oil Spill, a 30-Year Timeline – World Resources Institute