The Gulf oil spill: One year later

The Gulf oil spill: One year later

Apr 20, 2011
By staff
Gulf of Mexico — It’s been one year since the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico created one of the biggest man-made disasters on record.

Nearly 5 million barrels of oil spilled into the waters of the Gulf—home to many species of wildlife. So far, BP has repaid the federal government $632 million for cleanup and rehabilitation costs, and was sent a 10th bill, for $62 million in mid-March.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard/by Petty Officer 2nd Class Rob Simpson
Dr. Cara Field (left), from the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, and Matt Boasso, a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, prepare to release a sea turtle 50-miles south of Grand Isle, La.

More than 9,500 birds, turtles, mammals and reptiles were recorded as being affected by the oil spill, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Almost 5,000 were visibly oiled on collected and about 7,000 were collected dead. After extensive rescue and rehabilitation efforts, a little more than 1,500 of the 3,500 animals found alive have been released back into their natural habitats, says USFWS.

Dr. Michael Ziccardi, an associate professor of clinical wildlife health at the University of California-Davis Wildlife Health Center and an international authority on oiled bird rescue, was on-scene for much of the rehabilitation efforts on the Gulf. Read a restrospective about the oil spill and his take on the rehabilitation process in the June 2011 issue of DVM Newsmagazine.

Animals weren’t the only victims on the Gulf, though. More than 47,000 responders—including some veterinarians—were on scene throughout the cleanup, and some are beginning to report mysterious illnesses. The National Institutes of Health has commissioned a new study from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences that could last up to 10 years. The study is the largest health study of its kind ever conducted among oil spill cleanup workers and volunteers. The results are expected to help shape oil spill responses for the future.

Revisit DVM Newsmagazine's complete coverage of the oil spill here or by viewing our online photo gallery.