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

U.S. Coast Guard

The services of several government offices are being combined at a command post in St. Petersburg, just in case the Gulf oil slick gets closer to Florida's west coast.

oil spill at sunset

Out in the Gulf, BP is using huge amounts of chemical dispersants to break down the oil spill and keep it away from shore. But these dispersants create environmental problems of their own.

Fisherman Paul Redman of Pensacola is as concerned about these dispersants as he is about the oil spill:

A Florida pelican at Ft. DeSoto Park.

Scientists will never know what killed the migratory song birds that washed up on Pinellas County beaches last week. An official with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said the bird carcasses were too deteriorated to find a cause of death.

USF's oceangoing vessel

Of all the unknowns surrounding the Gulf oil spill, the biggest mystery so far might be its effect on marine life. A dozen researchers will venture into the waters Wednesday morning near the spill to compare the variety of life before and after the oil slick spreads.

oil spill fishermen

The oil spill in the Gulf hasn't reached Florida's beaches, but the state's fishermen are already beginning to feel the impacts.

The ban on fishing in some waters between the Mississippi and Pensacola Bay in Florida has “shut down” fisherman Paul Redman of Pensacola.

Dr. Robert Weisberg in front of his computer model

Scientists have differing opinions on where the Gulf oil spill will go next. One oceanographer predicts once the slick gets into the main current in the Gulf of Mexico, it would soon go past the Florida Keys and into the North Atlantic.

As the oil slick approaches beaches in Florida’s northern panhandle, wildlife officials are asking would-be Good Samaritans to leave saving the animals to them.

Pensacola Beach

Hundreds of people are flocking to Florida’s northern panhandle beaches -- some to protect them, others to take one good last look.

The oil spill in the Gulf continues to get closer to Florida panhandle beaches, the Coast Guard is using the Pensacola Naval Air Station as a staging base for its response.

Gulf oil spill

The oil slick in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico continues to spread, igniting worries that Florida's beaches could be in peril. One oceanographer says Florida's west coast are less at risk - but the rest of the shoreline may not be lucky.

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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