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

Sheen of oil found on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico

The head of BP recently said there's no evidence oil has been found below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. But that's being contradicted by researchers from several universities, including USF.

Dean Cannon

Shortly before the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf, the Florida House spent $200,000 for a study of oil drilling off Florida's coast which said any spills would be rare, small and easily contained.

Clearwater Beach

Despite the oil spill in the Gulf, most people we spoke to at Clearwater Beach this week said drilling needs to continue – although perhaps with more regulation.

Stephen Leatherman, also known as "Dr. Beach", has included two Florida beaches in his annual top ten beaches in the country -- but the BP oil blowout led him to exclude Florida Panhandle beaches.

Knowing what he knows now, he says he would reconsider.

Weatherbird II

New tests show what appears to be a massive, second underwater plume in previously untested waters northeast of the leaking BP wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico.

University of South Florida research vessel, the Weatherbird II, returns to port. Photo by Brittany Cerny

As BP works to seal the blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, researchers from the Gulf Coast states are in Washington answering questions about the impact of the oil spill.

Sen. Bill Nelson

Florida Senator Bill Nelson says it’s time for the military to take over the oil spill operation in the Gulf.

Monday evening, he told reporters that the military is “the one organization that knows how to get things organized and has a command structure that they can get things done.”

A rescued, oil-soaked pelican is released at Egmont Key near St. Petersburg.

The Florida scientists who went looking for oil in the Gulf Loop Current returned early Monday morning. But, it’ll be a week or more before we learn their findings.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen

The head of the U.S. Coast Guard says the federal government doesn’t want to take over the effort to plug the oil leak in the Gulf, despite calls for a more forceful response.

On Monday, a BP official said the government “clearly” could take over operations in the Gulf.

Dispersants being sprayed

Concerns about the impact on marine life have prompted the Environmental Protection Agency to tell BP to find a less-harmful chemical dispersant. The company is using the chemicals to break up the oil still pouring out of a broken well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Recent Episode Updates

Deepwater Horizon rig on fire in 2010

Fish with lesions, diseased livers and spleens - and parts of the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico coated with a toxic slime. These are some of the things researchers continue to find three years after the Deepwater Horizon well exploded. A team based at the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science has been taking samples in the Gulf to determine the lingering effects of the oil spill. It's called C-IMAGE, which stands for the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of the Gulf Ecosystem. It's a collaboration of chemists, engineers, biologists - even computer scientists. Together, they're trying to figure out exactly what a deep water blowout does to the marine ecosystem - and what to expect in future blowouts.

Florida Matters examines the ongoing impact the spill has on our community and along the Gulf Coast, and what progress has been made in the restoration efforts.

During the program, Florida’s leading scientists discuss their continuing role in measuring the effects of the oil spill. We compare how two governors responded to the spill – both Gov. Crist, who was on the ground during the event, and now Gov. Scott.

GulfWatch: One Year Later is a WUSF Production in partnership with WEDU and Bright House Networks.

oil slick

At the close of 2010, we're looking back at some of the news stories and the way that they affected our lives. They are the voices and the people that made headlines -- or that simply made us pause during our busy lives, and listen.

Starting in April, for three months, oil gushed into the Gulf from the site of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Some oil was captured or washed ashore. Most of it is unaccounted for – and that’s what has scientists worried.

Researchers from the University of South Florida College of Marine science say we’re just beginning to get a true picture of the damage to wildlife from the spill.

In November, these scientists answered questions at a forum on the oil spill sponsored by USF College of Marine Science, the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Club Florida and several other environmental groups.

They answer questions about BP’s funding of oil spill research and how that affects their independence; the current state of knowledge about damage to fish and other ocean organisms, and why the oil did not spread to other parts of Florida, as originally feared.

Also speaking at the forum were a panel of environmentalists for their take on the oil spill response – and whether the Obama Administration is doing what it should in restoring the Gulf.

As we’ve heard, the affects of the oil spill appear to be with us for years to come. And WUSF Public Media is committed to covering the spill’s aftermath, as part of a consortium of Gulf public television and radio stations.

You can follow our ongoing coverage from reporter Steve Newborn and the entire WUSF reporting team on our website under the “Oil Spill in the Gulf” logo, where you can find more than 100 stories and eight episodes of Florida Matters devoted to spill coverage.

Busy beach

Oil giant BP has promised to pay for the damage caused by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. For many fishermen and beachside hotels and restaurants, the company’s money may be all that keeps them from losing their businesses. And now, some local governments are getting in on the claims process, hoping to recoup lost revenues they say are related to the spill. We’ll explore how the claims process works and what types of claims BP will be paying.

Photo Credit: StevenM_61’s Flickr Album

Oil on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico as observed by the crew of the Weatherbird II in May (photo courtesy George Guthro)

WUSF’s University Beat producer Mark Schreiner joined oceanographers and engineers from USF’s College of Marine Science aboard the research vessel Weatherbird II on a recent four-day mission into the Gulf of Mexico. This week’s University Beat on WUSF 89.7 FM brings you the first of a pair of reports that takes you along as they work on monitoring devices that could help protect the Bay area from the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Psychologist's Couch

Social scientists will tell you that every disaster -- natural or man-made -- takes a mental toll on those living through it. More than two months into the Gulf oil spill, we look at the psychological impact of this catastrophe, including how it’s different for those who have oil on their shores and those who are still watching, waiting and hoping. And we talk about media coverage of the spill and whether we’re all tired of hearing about it.

Clearwater Beach

Pools of oil are washing ashore along Florida’s coast, coating the sand with tar balls and sludge. And though it’s only panhandle beaches that have oil on them so far, hoteliers and tourism officials in the Bay area say visitors think all the state’s coastline is covered. In the shadow of the Gulf oil spill, we’ll check in on business along the Bay area’s beaches.

Photo Credit: John Weiss Flickr Album

Oil rig and the Florida House

Is it a waffle or a flip-flop or just a revised opinion based on new evidence? The ongoing oil spill in the Gulf has some elected leaders and political candidates scrambling to point out their opposition to offshore drilling -- even if they once thought it was a good idea. We look how the politics of offshore drilling is moving candidates and what it might mean in November.

Gulf oil slick

Florida lawmakers have commissioned reports and held hearings as they explore opening state-controlled waters for oil and gas exploration. The question of offshore drilling has been floating around Tallahassee for years, and it looked like the incoming leadership in the Legislature was poised to allow drilling closer to Florida’s Gulf coast than ever before. But then Deepwater Horizon exploded in April and oil has been pouring into the Gulf ever since. We’ll look at how that’s changed the state’s offshore drilling conversation.

Photo courtesy of Sindh Today News.

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