Gulf of Mexico

Gulf Restoration Nearly Four Years Later

Updates on the progress of Gulf restoration nearly four years after the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster.

Restoring the Gulf of Mexico - An oil-covered crab struggles on the shore in Grand Isle where workers were cleaning up the massive spill. Photo: © Cheryl Gerber

We have one Gulf and one chance to restore the natural resources we rely on. There has been some progress in the last four years that we should recognize and celebrate, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Since the onset of the spill, Ocean Conservancy has led the charge for a comprehensive approach to restoration. For us, that means restoration of our coastal communities as well as coastal and marine environments. Four years on, the discussion about coastal restoration and economic recovery has grown more robust, but we still have a long way to go.

Wildlife and Ecosystem Impacts


Click to enlarge map and see the areas impacted by the BP oil disaster.

In the four years since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, scientists have seen impacts ranging from visibly oiled birds and sea turtles to sick dolphins and dying corals.

Determining the full extent of the impacts from the oil spill will take time, and researchers are just beginning to release their findings. This map illustrates impacts they’ve documented in the region so far, including fish with lesions, impacted bluefin tuna spawning habitat and shifts in whale shark abundance and distribution.


Click to enlarge infographic and see the lab experiments helping determine the impacts of the BP oil disaster.

Some impacts from the BP oil disaster, such as oiled animals and damaged coral, are visible. But sometimes we can't see the changes in the environment that are unfolding. Scientists have been working hard in labs to determine the full extent of the BP oil disaster. The graphic above shows some of the preliminary findings scientists are beginning to reveal.

Five Indicator Species Impacted by the Spill

  • Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles
  • Brown pelicans
  • Atlantic bluefin tuna
  • Whale sharks
  • Bottlenose dolphins

Marine Restoration Workshop Report

We are still responding to and recovering from the BP oil disaster. As decision-makers begin planning and choosing restoration priorities and projects, Ocean Conservancy and the Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative (GOMURC) are working to ensure the waters of the Gulf are part of the plan.

The two groups convened a workshop of experts to identify a list of top restoration projects and approaches to help reverse damage from the BP oil disaster and decades of environmental degradation in offshore areas, and promote the economic value of the Gulf’s natural resources.

The Marine Restoration Workshop Report’s focus on offshore areas is meant to complement the significant coastal wetland restoration planning and implementation efforts already underway, and to serve as a catalog for making investments in the restoration of marine resources.

Download the executive summary.

Download the full report.

Early Restoration Projects

As recovery from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill continues, it is critical that we begin comprehensive environmental restoration across the Gulf – from coastal wetlands to marine waters and from Texas to Florida.

Ocean Conservancy has joined with a group of conservation, environmental and social equity organizations that have worked to support long-term recovery in the region for decades to create a model portfolio of projects that take an integrated and comprehensive approach toward restoring the Gulf. The coalition believes a program of this type will be most effective in helping to rebuild the region’s ecosystems, economies and communities.

Recommendations for long-term and comprehensive environmental restoration of the Gulf of Mexico can be found here.

The coalition includes Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy and Oxfam America.

Restore The Gulf of Mexico

Learn how you can help us restore the Gulf of Mexico and other special places across our ocean.

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