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

Rep. Gus Bilirakis

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, was a staunch supporter of offshore drilling as an alternative to imported oil.

After the spill, he says he is still pro-drilling, but he has proposed a temporary halt of drilling and a reassessment of how close it could be to Florida's coast.

Pensacola Beach

The seemingly unstoppable eastward drift of oil and other junk from the BP spill along the Florida Panhandle may be slowing, at least temporarily, according to Florida Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole.

Republican candidate for governor

Rick Scott has ridden a wave of television ads to become a top contender for governor on the Republican ticket. At the opening of his regional headquarters in Tampa, Scott says he favors gun rights, opposes abortion and supports drilling for oil off Florida's shores.

You may have seen the ads showing clean, pounding surf and birds flying above pristine Panhandle beaches. But no local beaches are spotlighted by that campaign by the state. And that has St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster roiling.

During his visit to Pensacola Tuesday, President Obama promised to name separate commanders in Florida, Alabama and Louisiana to oversee the response in each state to the oil spill.

Adam Putnam

Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow, has always held a position favoring offshore drilling. However, in light of the recent spill, he has proposed a temporary halt of drilling close to Florida's shores till the pending investigation into what caused the spill has finished its course.

Gulf oil slick

One of the biggest questions about the oil spill is, where's it headed next? Researchers say they'd be able to tell us more - if their funding hadn't been cut by half in the last decade. Today, they went to Congress seeking more money - and they want BP to ante up, too.

Rep. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, has gone from being opposed to most drilling in the eastern Gulf, to willing to allow drilling 100 miles off Florida's coast, to being against most drilling off the coast again.

Before the Spill:

Sen. Nelson

BP has rebuffed a request by Florida scientists for $100 million for oil spill research. Instead, the British oil giant has proposed giving one-tenth that amount.

Fl. Democrat Bill Nelson

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson told a Congressional commitee Thursday he's livid after Florida officials were not notified when part of the Gulf oil slick entered a sensitive bay near Pensacola.

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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