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Green sea turtle hatchling at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Keenan Adams, USFWS.

Five things you need to know

5th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico

  1. Did you know that the good health of the Gulf of Mexico depends on places far from the Gulf Coast? Thirty-one states (more than 50% of the contiguous US) have rivers, creeks, and streams that eventually drain into the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf of Mexico watershed includes states as far away as Montana and New York!
  2. Did you know that it is actually very easy to cause additional harm to the environment when cleaning up oiled shorelines? The cleanup itself — with lots of people, heavy equipment, and constant activity — can add to the environmental harm caused by the oil! Even artificial lighting used to keep emergency efforts going¬†24/7¬†can have a negative impact. For example, light pollution can discourage endangered female sea turtles from coming ashore at night to nest.
  3. Did you know that restoring the Gulf of Mexico is a collaborative process that doesn’t just involve the federal government, the Gulf Coast states and the companies responsible for the oil spill? It involves the public, and is up to everyone in partnership! Ultimately, the level of success we reach in restoring the Gulf will be directly related to how well we coordinate our efforts.
  4. Did you know that the Fish and Wildlife Service is part of a multi-agency effort currently assessing injury to endangered species caused by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Assessing injury involves everything from Service staff counting the number of oiled pelicans and sea turtles (alive and dead) to surveying damage to essential wildlife habitat such as dunes and beaches. The Service is also participating in the Gulf of Mexico restoration through its membership in the RESTORE Council, a state-federal entity responsible for developing a comprehensive plan to restore not just the ecosystem, but also the economy of the Gulf Coast region!
  5. Did you know that restoring the Gulf requires more than simply tackling the impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill? Over the past decade the Gulf Coast region has experienced loss of critical wetland habitats, erosion of barrier islands, imperiled fisheries, water quality degradation, and significant coastal land loss due to natural forces, the alteration of hydrology, and other human activities. These problems not only endanger the natural systems but also the economic vitality of the Gulf Coast region and the entire nation!


Nadine Siak, USFWS

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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