Gulf of Mexico

Small foram shells in seafloor sediment.

Little Critters that tell a BIG Story: Benthic Foraminifera and the Gulf Oil Spill

You are not alone if you don’t know what forams (short for foraminifera) are, so let’s start with the basics. Simply put, forams are single-celled organisms related to the familiar amoeba that produce a...

How Oil Feeds the Deep Sea

Positioned in front of a natural oil seep, this video camera is capturing images of the black oil bubbling up from beneath the sea floor. A light mounted to the frame helps see what...

Beyond the Sea: How Oil Spills in the Ocean Affect Birds On Land

With their brown and yellow markings, seaside sparrows ( Ammodramus maritimus ) blend in well with marshgrass. Credit: Philip Stouffer, Louisiana State University In marshlands along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, it's...

Oil Invades Coral Communities of the Deep

On the deep seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico, ecosystems made up of fish, corals, sea stars, anemones and other invertebrates flourish. Since the sun’s rays don’t reach the deep sea, coral communities rely...

Building a Better Dispersant

A C-130 Hercules from the Air Force Reserve Command deploys dispersant into the Gulf of Mexico May 5, 2010, as part of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill response effort. Credit: U.S. Air Force, Tech...
A raindrop falls into a surface oil slick treated with chemical dispersant.

After the Oil Spill: Research Projects in the Gulf of Mexico with GoMRI

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) was formed as a 10-year independent research program with money provided by BP to fund an independent research program looking at the impact of oil spills on...
Alexis Temkin

Five Questions With Alexis Temkin, Searching For Links Between Deepwater Horizon & Human Health

Credit: Courtesy Alexis Temkin We all know to avoid touching or eating oil (the fossil fuel variety that is). But after a coastal oil spill, avoiding oil can be difficult if you live near...

Five Questions with Uta Passow, How An Oil Spill Affects the Movement of Carbon In the Ocean

There are millions of tiny drifting plants in the sunlit ocean, called phytoplankton. They produce oxygen that humans end up breathing in and provide food for animals in the plankton (the zooplankton). After death,...
Nancy Rabalais

Five Questions with Nancy Rabalais, Tracking Dead Zones In the Gulf

The Gulf of Mexico is known for one of the world's largest “dead zones"—areas of low- or no-oxygen water along the seafloor that suffocate most animal life. The average size of the Gulf's dead...

Let's Get Our Hands Dirty This Women's History Month

A view of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as seen from a NOAA research aircraft, June 2010. Credit: David Valentine, University of California Santa Barbara In the ocean world, there are many women to...

Oil’s Impact on Marine Invertebrates

In the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, what is the effect of oil on invertebrates like jellyfish, clams, crabs, sea stars, and plankton? The scope of the damage is more easily observed among...
Satellite view of the Gulf Coast oil spill off of Louisiana, April 29, 2010.

State of Emergency in the Gulf

The explosion of Deepwater Horizon, an oil-drilling platform roughly 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana, is quickly growing into an environmental disaster that will leave its mark on coastal communities, fisheries, wildlife, and...
Students share a microscope to get a closer look at plankton samples from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

A Current Event in the Classroom: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Students share a microscope to get a closer look at plankton samples from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Credit: Seaberry Nachbar, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries Sometimes, a tragic event can become a powerful teaching...
Photograph of an oiled brown pelican squatting on the beach.

Animals and the Oil Spill: What Can You Do?

A brown pelican, the Louisiana state bird, stands mired in oil in East Grand Terre on June 3, 2010. Credit: Office of the Governor of the State of Louisiana Lately we’ve been fielding questions...

Dr. Nancy Rabalais: Troubled Waters in the Gulf of Mexico

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill brought the world’s attention to the Gulf of Mexico and raised awareness of the region’s chronic loss of wetlands and the massive dead zone caused by excess nutrients from...
Fire fighting ships surround the burning Deepwater Horizon oil rig, shooting water at it to put out the flames.

The Gulf Oil Spill: Send in Your Questions

Boats trying to control the fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 21, 2010. Credit: U.S. Coast Guard With the nuclear and humanitarian crisis in Japan, major political changes in North Africa...
A screenshot of some of Smithsonian's marine story windows in Google Earth

What Lives in the Gulf of Mexico? Exploring Marine Collections on Google Earth

When he was 10 years old, Stephen Cairns lived in Cuba where he kept a collection of butterflies and sea shells. When his family moved to Louisiana, he could bring only one of the...

The Oil Spill, Two Years Later

Mark Dodd, a wildlife biologist from Georgia's Department of Natural Resources, surveying oiled sargassum seaweed in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Credit: Georgia Department of Natural Resources...