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A view of response ships at the source of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a month after the rig exploded and sank, tragically claiming the lives of 11 people. (NOAA)

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon Macondo oil well drilling platform tragically killed 11 workers, and started the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history, releasing millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA was on the scene from the earliest moments of the crisis, bringing more than 25 years of experience protecting and restoring our coasts from oil spills.

As the lead science agency for coastal oil spills, NOAA's Office of Response and Restoration provided mission-critical information to guide the emergency response, the natural resources damage assessment and the restoration plan. NOAA scientists continue their commitment to the Gulf as we report on the short and long term effects to the fish, wildlife and habitat injured by the spill, as well as the lost recreational use along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, and Florida.

On April 4, 2016, the court approved a settlement with BP for natural resource injuries stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This settlement concludes the largest natural resource damage assessment ever undertaken. We will now begin implementing restoration as laid out in the Trustees' comprehensive restoration plan. Under this settlement, BP will pay the Trustees up to $8.8 billion for restoration to address natural resources injuries and lost recreational uses. Natural Resource Damage Assessment from the Deepwater Horizon Trustee Council and access NOAA data and information related to the spill, including science studies about the long term environmental impacts.

NOAA Studies Documenting the Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Published results of NOAA's efforts, as of 2017, to understand the injuries caused by the Deepwater Horizon spill, as well as the most appropriate means to restore those injuries and to compensate for the lost use of the Gulf's resources while they are injured.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Tied to Further Impacts in Shallower Water Corals, New Study Reports

A study published in October 2015 reveals that the footprint of damage from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill extends to coral communities in shallower Gulf waters, up to 67 miles from the wellhead.

Agreement in Principle with BP to Settle Civil Claims for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

BP announced on July 2, 2015 that it has reached an agreement in principle with the United States and the five Gulf states to settle the civil claims against the company arising out of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill tragedy. BP has announced the value of the settlement to be approximately $18.7 billion.

Five Years After Deepwater Horizon, How Is NOAA Preparing for Future Oil Spills?

Keeping up with emerging technologies and changing energy trends helps us become better prepared for the oil spills of tomorrow. That means being ready for anything, whether spills stem from a derailed oil train, a pipeline of oil sands, or a cargo ship passing through Arctic waters.

What Have We Learned About Using Dispersants During the Next Big Oil Spill?

In the middle of the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a scientific debate emerged about the role of chemical dispersants in response to the spill. Five years later, we know a lot more, but many of the scientific, public, and policy questions remain open to debate.

NOAA Builds Tool to Hold Unprecedented Amounts of Data from Studying an Unprecedented Oil Spill

After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the government began planning a lot of scientific studies and collecting a lot of data on the spill's impacts. Learn about the digital solution NOAA created to gather together and organize what would become an unprecedented amount of scientific data from this spill.

Recalling the Early Hours—and Challenges—of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

NOAA science adviser Charlie Henry received an urgent phone call in the middle of the night on April 20, 2010. He was told of an explosion and fire on the drilling platform Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. This began months of unusual challenges and stresses that Henry and his NOAA colleagues will never forget.

In Mapping the Fallout from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Developing One Tool to Bring Unity to the Response

During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, NOAA debuted the online mapping tool ERMA, which organized crucial response data into one common picture for everyone involved in this monumental spill. Learn how NOAA developed this pivotal piece of technology under the pressure of a real emergency.

In the Wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf Dolphins Found Sick and Dying in Larger Numbers Than Ever Before

Dolphins washing up dead in the northern Gulf of Mexico are not an uncommon phenomenon. What has been uncommon, however, is how many more dead bottlenose dolphins have been observed in coastal waters affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the five years since.

At the Bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, Corals and Diversity Suffered After Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, scientists have been studying just how this oil spill and response affected the deep ocean and seafloor of the Gulf. What they found was the footprint of the oil spill on the seafloor, stamped on sickened deep-sea corals and out-of-balance communities of tiny marine invertebrates.

Explore Oil Spill Data for Gulf of Mexico Marine Life With NOAA GIS Tools

How would anyone start to dig through all the scientific information gathered from the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? Learn how to use these two map-based NOAA tools to start exploring!

NOAA Launches New Data Management Tool for Public Access to Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Data

A flexible new data management tool—known as DIVER and developed by NOAA to support the damage assessment for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill—is now available for public use. You can use it to find and download environmental impact data from the Gulf of Mexico.

Largest Oil Spills Affecting U.S. Waters Since 1969

Since the iconic 1969 oil well blowout in Santa Barbara, California, there have been numerous oil spills over 10,000 barrels which affected U.S. waters.

The largest of which was the 2010 Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

See a map showing the largest oil spills in U.S. waters.

Who Is Funding Research and Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill?

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, there have been various additional investments, outside of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, in more broadly learning about and restoring the Gulf of Mexico. These distinct efforts to fund research and restoration in the Gulf have been sizable, but keeping track of them can be, frankly, a bit confusing.

Study Shows Gulf Dolphins in Poor Health following Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

As part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a team of researchers performed comprehensive health assessments of bottlenose dolphins living in Louisiana's Barataria Bay, which was oiled in the spill, and Florida's Sarasota Bay, which was not. Read a Q&A with two of the NOAA scientists involved and watch a video to learn what their findings mean for dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.

NOAA Data on Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Plume Now Available Online

NOAA has completed a multi-year process of archiving more than 2 million water samples and measurements gathered by ships in the Gulf of Mexico during and after the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil release in 2010. This online archive of oceanographic and environmental samples, including those from the underwater oil plume, is now available to the public.

Latest NOAA Study Ties Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to Spike in Gulf Dolphin Deaths

What has been causing the alarming increase in dead bottlenose dolphins along the northern Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? Scientists have found even more evidence connecting these deaths to the same signs of illness found in animals exposed to petroleum products, as reported in the peer-reviewed online journal PLOS ONE.

Five Years After Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf Research Reveals Oil Damages Fish Heart Development

NOAA research following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the northern Gulf of Mexico examined the potential for the spilled crude oil to damage the developing hearts of fish and thus impact fish populations and commercial fisheries.

Studies found that concentrations of crude oil measured in Gulf spawning habitats could cause cardiac-related deformities in species including bluefin and yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi.

Summarizing Five Years of NOAA Research on the Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Dolphins

A number of studies to understand impacts on bottlenose dolphins have been conducted over the past five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The studies have included recovery of dead stranded dolphins and analysis of their tissues, as well as photographic monitoring, remote tissue sampling, and even capture-release health assessments of live dolphins.

Early Restoration to Begin in Gulf of Mexico After Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Spill

Two years after the nation's largest oil spill, an estimated $60 million in early restoration projects soon will begin along the Gulf Coast. Learn more about how NOAA and our state and federal partners are working to heal environmental injuries following the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

Help Us Plan Early Restoration for the Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Spill

The natural resource trustees have announced new opportunities for the public to engage in restoration planning for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We are asking for public input on the scope, content, and any significant issues we should consider as we evaluate the potential environmental effects of early restoration projects.

Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Sea Turtles and Marine Mammals

Feb. 1, 2017 - A special issue of Endangered Species Research, published Jan. 31, 2017, features 20 scientific articles summarizing the impacts of the oil spill on marine mammals and sea turtles from Deepwater Horizon.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Data: New Monitoring Updates

By Alexis Baldera The 2010 Deepwater oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico revealed a challenge with the way scientific monitoring information is shared and stored.

Closing Down Damage Assessment After Deepwater Horizon

April 5, 2017 - Federal and state agencies worked quickly to scale up the emergency response, clean up the spill, mount a large-scale effort to assess the injuries to wildlife and other natural resources, and record how these lost resources adversely affected the public. When the cleanup was finished, and the injuries were determined, another challenge came: NOAA and other agencies had to close down the largest damage assessment field operation in the nation’s history.

NOAA Studies Documenting the Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Published results of NOAA's efforts, as of 2017, to understand the injuries caused by the Deepwater Horizon spill, as well as the most appropriate means to restore those injuries and to compensate for the lost use of the Gulf's resources while they are injured.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Tied to Further Impacts in Shallower Water Corals, New Study Reports

A study published in October 2015 reveals that the footprint of damage from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill extends to coral communities in shallower Gulf waters, up to 67 miles from the wellhead.

Agreement in Principle with BP to Settle Civil Claims for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

BP announced on July 2, 2015 that it has reached an agreement in principle with the United States and the five Gulf states to settle the civil claims against the company arising out of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill tragedy. BP has announced the value of the settlement to be approximately $18.7 billion.

Five Years After Deepwater Horizon, How Is NOAA Preparing for Future Oil Spills?

Keeping up with emerging technologies and changing energy trends helps us become better prepared for the oil spills of tomorrow. That means being ready for anything, whether spills stem from a derailed oil train, a pipeline of oil sands, or a cargo ship passing through Arctic waters.

What Have We Learned About Using Dispersants During the Next Big Oil Spill?

In the middle of the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a scientific debate emerged about the role of chemical dispersants in response to the spill. Five years later, we know a lot more, but many of the scientific, public, and policy questions remain open to debate.

NOAA Builds Tool to Hold Unprecedented Amounts of Data from Studying an Unprecedented Oil Spill

After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the government began planning a lot of scientific studies and collecting a lot of data on the spill's impacts. Learn about the digital solution NOAA created to gather together and organize what would become an unprecedented amount of scientific data from this spill.

Recalling the Early Hours—and Challenges—of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

NOAA science adviser Charlie Henry received an urgent phone call in the middle of the night on April 20, 2010. He was told of an explosion and fire on the drilling platform Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. This began months of unusual challenges and stresses that Henry and his NOAA colleagues will never forget.

In Mapping the Fallout from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Developing One Tool to Bring Unity to the Response

During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, NOAA debuted the online mapping tool ERMA, which organized crucial response data into one common picture for everyone involved in this monumental spill. Learn how NOAA developed this pivotal piece of technology under the pressure of a real emergency.

In the Wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf Dolphins Found Sick and Dying in Larger Numbers Than Ever Before

Dolphins washing up dead in the northern Gulf of Mexico are not an uncommon phenomenon. What has been uncommon, however, is how many more dead bottlenose dolphins have been observed in coastal waters affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the five years since.

At the Bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, Corals and Diversity Suffered After Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, scientists have been studying just how this oil spill and response affected the deep ocean and seafloor of the Gulf. What they found was the footprint of the oil spill on the seafloor, stamped on sickened deep-sea corals and out-of-balance communities of tiny marine invertebrates.

Explore Oil Spill Data for Gulf of Mexico Marine Life With NOAA GIS Tools

How would anyone start to dig through all the scientific information gathered from the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? Learn how to use these two map-based NOAA tools to start exploring!

NOAA Launches New Data Management Tool for Public Access to Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Data

A flexible new data management tool—known as DIVER and developed by NOAA to support the damage assessment for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill—is now available for public use. You can use it to find and download environmental impact data from the Gulf of Mexico.

Largest Oil Spills Affecting U.S. Waters Since 1969

Since the iconic 1969 oil well blowout in Santa Barbara, California, there have been numerous oil spills over 10,000 barrels which affected U.S. waters.

The largest of which was the 2010 Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

See a map showing the largest oil spills in U.S. waters.

Who Is Funding Research and Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill?

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, there have been various additional investments, outside of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process, in more broadly learning about and restoring the Gulf of Mexico. These distinct efforts to fund research and restoration in the Gulf have been sizable, but keeping track of them can be, frankly, a bit confusing.

Study Shows Gulf Dolphins in Poor Health following Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

As part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a team of researchers performed comprehensive health assessments of bottlenose dolphins living in Louisiana's Barataria Bay, which was oiled in the spill, and Florida's Sarasota Bay, which was not. Read a Q&A with two of the NOAA scientists involved and watch a video to learn what their findings mean for dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.

NOAA Data on Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Plume Now Available Online

NOAA has completed a multi-year process of archiving more than 2 million water samples and measurements gathered by ships in the Gulf of Mexico during and after the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil release in 2010. This online archive of oceanographic and environmental samples, including those from the underwater oil plume, is now available to the public.

Latest NOAA Study Ties Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to Spike in Gulf Dolphin Deaths

What has been causing the alarming increase in dead bottlenose dolphins along the northern Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? Scientists have found even more evidence connecting these deaths to the same signs of illness found in animals exposed to petroleum products, as reported in the peer-reviewed online journal PLOS ONE.

Five Years After Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf Research Reveals Oil Damages Fish Heart Development

NOAA research following the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the northern Gulf of Mexico examined the potential for the spilled crude oil to damage the developing hearts of fish and thus impact fish populations and commercial fisheries.

Studies found that concentrations of crude oil measured in Gulf spawning habitats could cause cardiac-related deformities in species including bluefin and yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi.

Summarizing Five Years of NOAA Research on the Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Dolphins

A number of studies to understand impacts on bottlenose dolphins have been conducted over the past five years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The studies have included recovery of dead stranded dolphins and analysis of their tissues, as well as photographic monitoring, remote tissue sampling, and even capture-release health assessments of live dolphins.

Early Restoration to Begin in Gulf of Mexico After Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Spill

Two years after the nation's largest oil spill, an estimated $60 million in early restoration projects soon will begin along the Gulf Coast. Learn more about how NOAA and our state and federal partners are working to heal environmental injuries following the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill.

Help Us Plan Early Restoration for the Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Spill

The natural resource trustees have announced new opportunities for the public to engage in restoration planning for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. We are asking for public input on the scope, content, and any significant issues we should consider as we evaluate the potential environmental effects of early restoration projects.

Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Sea Turtles and Marine Mammals

Feb. 1, 2017 - A special issue of Endangered Species Research, published Jan. 31, 2017, features 20 scientific articles summarizing the impacts of the oil spill on marine mammals and sea turtles from Deepwater Horizon.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Data: New Monitoring Updates

By Alexis Baldera The 2010 Deepwater oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico revealed a challenge with the way scientific monitoring information is shared and stored.

Closing Down Damage Assessment After Deepwater Horizon

April 5, 2017 - Federal and state agencies worked quickly to scale up the emergency response, clean up the spill, mount a large-scale effort to assess the injuries to wildlife and other natural resources, and record how these lost resources adversely affected the public. When the cleanup was finished, and the injuries were determined, another challenge came: NOAA and other agencies had to close down the largest damage assessment field operation in the nation’s history.