OOS 40-4 - Ecological impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Thursday, August 9, 2012: 9:00 AM
B113, Oregon Convention Center
Mace G. Barron, Gulf Ecology Division, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf Breeze, FL

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (DWH) was the largest environmental disaster and response effort in United States history, with nearly 800 million liters of crude oil spilled. Vast areas of the Gulf of Mexico were contaminated with oil, including deep ocean communities and over 1600 km of shoreline. Several large scale field efforts were undertaken both during the DWH spill and following capping and killing of the well, including assessments of shoreline oiling, wildlife oiling, and the condition of coastal waters and sediment.


Multiple species of pelagic, tidal, and estuarine organisms, sea turtles, marine mammals and birds were impacted by free product, dispersed oil, and weathered oil, and over 20M hectares (~40%) of the Gulf of Mexico were closed to fishing. The assessment of injuries and damages from the DWH spill, including impacts on human well being, rates of oil weathering, and restoration options, is ongoing.