Oil Spill in Gulf

Flaring operations aboard the drillship Discoverer Enterprise

On April 20, an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 workers and launched the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf. What’s the effect on wildlife? The fishing industry? Tourism?

WUSF gets beyond sensational headlines and speaks directly with scientists, officials and Florida residents to bring you the answers you need to know.

Florida’s response to the ongoing spill has been to set up an Incident Command Post at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg. The Coast Guard, BP officials and members from several state and local agencies are part of the center.

Additionally, researchers are responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill from the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science in St. Petersburg and Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.

Scientists are working to track the oil spill both on and below the surface. And they’re working to measure its affects on marine life, wildlife and the shoreline ecosystems.

Recent News Updates

A year after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, residents of the Florida panhandle are still angry – at BP, at the government, and at what they say are misperceptions about the safety of Gulf seafood.

Deepwater Horizon

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the blowout that sparked the largest oil spill in the nation's history. It's also the deadline to join a massive lawsuit to recoup economic damages from the spill. But some Gulf state governors would rather negotiate than sue.

Gov. Crist

So far, Gov. Rick Scott has balked at suing BP because of last year's oil spill in the Gulf. But today, his predecessor said the state should join the lawsuit. Former Gov. Charlie Crist says Florida should sue the oil giant for damages and lost tax revenue.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Gov. Rick Scott and a BP executive announced Monday that seven Florida Panhandle counties will receive $30 million for tourism advertising and marketing over the next three years.

It's been almost a year since the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig, and scientists are finding an increased number of dead dolphins and sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. Some of those dead dolphins had oil on them whose source is the BP oil spill.

Panhandle beaches

Many beaches in Florida’s Panhandle and Alabama hit hard by the BP oil spill appear to have been cleared of tar balls and buried oil. But there appears to be some residual contamination.

Despite the oil spill and a slow economy, the number of tourists visiting Florida actually increased last year, according to Visit Florida.

An estimated 83 million visitors came to Florida in 2010, an 2 percent increase from the year before.

A group of legislators gathered on the Capitol steps in Tallahassee to kickoff a drive to ban oil and gas drilling in state waters offshore. Among the mostly Democratic gathering was former governor Charlie Crist.

Six months ago, President Obama established a commission to investigate the BP oil disaster. The co-chair of that commission is former Florida Governor and Senator Bob Graham. He condemned what he calls a "culture of complacency" from both the oil industry and government regulators.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson held an impromptu town hall Tuesday at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

The presidential panel investigating the BP oil spill unanimously approved 15 recommendations. Many will require Congressional action and Florida U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is ready to move the recommendations forward.

Recent Episode Updates

Oil spill

Oil has been pouring into the Gulf of Mexico since an oil rig exploded last month. The rig was leased by BP, which has been trying to cap the well and stem the flow of petroleum. Meanwhile, Gulf Coast communities are watching and waiting to see what impact the spill will have on their beaches and their economies. We’ll assess the threat to Florida and talk about the ocean currents that will determine where the oil goes.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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