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Gulf of Mexico

Stock photo of an oil drilling rig.
Wikipedia

The House approved legislation Wednesday that would permanently bar drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and extend a moratorium on drilling off Florida's west coast.

Coastal lawmakers from both parties said the bills would protect U.S. coasts from drilling that can pollute crucial waters — and lead to disasters such as the 2010 BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The water off the coast of the Riviera Maya was warmer than I expected, but far murkier. Endless pieces of seaweed, floating on and just below the surface, wrapped themselves like wet masking tape around my flippers and mask as I examined the second-largest reef in the world.

"It's the sargassum," my divemaster from Tulaka Diving told me resignedly. "It's coming over from Brazil and getting worse every year."

dead zone
NOAA / NOAA

Every summer, fish and other marine life are forced out of their habitats in the Gulf of Mexico due to an insidious “dead zone.”

The area, also known as a hypoxic zone, is a section of water that lacks enough oxygen for marine life to survive.

A tropical storm watch has been issued for parts of Mississippi and Louisiana as a system that has moved into the Gulf of Mexico is poised to form into a tropical depression by Thursday and could become a hurricane before the weekend.
FLORIDA PUBLIC RADIO EMERGENCY NETWORK

The National Hurricane Center has classified the tropical low over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico as a “potential tropical cyclone” (PTC), and it could become a hurricane before hitting Louisiana this weekend.

A summertime Gulf of Mexico dead zone fueled by pollution flowing out of the Mississippi River watershed could be among the largest on record this year.

This week on Florida Matters, we talk about how the environmental history of the Gulf of Mexico shaped human life over the years with Jack E. Davis, whose book The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for History.


In the fall of last year, USF researchers sent a glider to what’s called “the epicenter” of red tide—the Gulf of Mexico’s continental shelf. The device helped to measure water movements to determine how red tide blooms were distributed throughout Florida.
USF College of Marine Science

A new study shows that ocean circulation was a major cause of the toxic red tide bloom, which plagued Florida's West Coast for over a year. It expanded up to the Florida Panhandle and circled down around to the East Coast.

The Gulf of Mexico Bryde's whales are genetically distinct. They're a unique subspecies compared to other Bryde's whales worldwide. They have low genetic diversity. It's critical for populations and species to have genetic diversity for survival.
NOAA Fisheries

Federal scientists say a tiny group of Bryde's whales in the Gulf of Mexico is endangered, facing threats including oil and gas exploration and development.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

A group of scientists from states bordering the Gulf of Mexico met in St. Petersburg Wednesday to figure out ways to deal with health problems coming from red tide and oil spills in the Gulf.

Off Cedar Key on Florida's west coast, the water is some of the most pristine in the Gulf. The estuary there has long supported a thriving seafood industry.

Sue Colson, a city commissioner in Cedar Key, says one of the best places to harvest oysters used to be the Lone Cabbage oyster reef, about a mile offshore. When the tide was really low, she says there were so many oysters that she and her husband could walk along the reef picking them up.

Conor Goulding / Mote Marine Laboratory

The Alabama Department of Health says that red tide has been found in water samples taken near Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.

From the Bayou Chico contaminated-sediment remediation project in Escambia County to implementing a canal-management master plan in Monroe County, a multi-state council created after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster has approved numerous projects for areas of Florida’s Gulf Coast. 

U.S. Coast Guard

Eight boaters were rescued in two separate accidents after their boats overturned along Florida's Gulf Coast.

A state-created panel is beginning to award millions that Florida received for damages related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

USF College of Marine Science

Eight years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, there still is a lack of knowledge on the complex ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico.

But new research may soon be developing along the Gulf Coast. University of South Florida St. Petersburg and the St. Petersburg Innovation District will discuss a proposal for a Joint Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies Wednesday.

USF College of Marine Science

A study seven years in the making by University of South Florida researchers has created a map of how many species live in the Gulf of Mexico. This will give experts an idea of how much damage would take place from a future oil spill.

Arcadio Castillo / Smithsonian

Scientists say that climate change is having an effect on the levels of the world’s oceans.

But it’s also apparently affecting the oxygen levels throughout the oceans, as well as our coastal waters including the Gulf of Mexico.

The offshore drilling rigs that pepper the central Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana and Texas tap some of the nation’s richest oil and natural gas reserves.

That proven and profitable productivity is why the energy industry has pushed for decades to open vast Gulf waters off Florida’s West Coast to exploration and drilling.

The Trump administration moved Thursday to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic oceans with a plan that would open federal waters off California for the first time in more than three decades.

ICON Aircraft

The tiny sport plane Roy Halladay was flying Tuesday when he fatally crashed into the Gulf of Mexico was made for entry-level pilots like him, though the plane's chief designer and test pilot died while flying one earlier this year, officials and experts said.

The first offshore sale in the US Oil and Gas Leasing program for the year has concluded. It offered the largest amount of acreage in the history of the federal offshore program in the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile the Trump Administration is working to expand offshore drilling into the eastern Gulf and other new areas. 

It has become a rite of summer. Every year, a "dead zone" appears in the Gulf of Mexico. It's an area where water doesn't have enough oxygen for fish to survive. And every year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commissions scientists to venture out into the Gulf to measure it.

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

A tropical storm warning has been issued for a section of Louisiana's coast as a weather system approaches from the Gulf of Mexico.

Forecasters Tracking Low Pressure System In Gulf

Jun 19, 2017
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

A low-pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico could be the first storm to threaten Florida during the 2017 hurricane season.

U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard says a second body has been recovered as crews continue to search the Gulf of Mexico for a family missing off the coast of southwest Florida.

A Coast Guard news release says Cape Coral Fire and Rescue found the body Thursday morning, about four miles from where the first body was found Wednesday. Authorities have not released the identity of either one.

Searchers have also found debris from the boat. On Thursday they found a sailboat mast.

Crews have been searching for 45-year-old Ace Kimberly and his three teenage children.

Ten watersheds around the rim of the Gulf of Mexico — from Florida to Texas — are being looked at as sites for $140 million in proposed conservation projects under a plan to restore the Gulf from BP's catastrophic 2010 oil spill.

On Thursday the Gulf Coast Restoration Council, a body set up by Congress to handle money derived from fines from the spill, released a list of the projects it wants to fund.

C-IMAGE Consortium

On April 20, 2010, a wellhead a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico exploded, killing 11 workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil platform.

In the subsequent leak, more than 200 million gallons of oil spilled out. On the Gulf’s surface, the oil covered up to 68-thousand square miles – an area roughly equal to the size of Florida.

In 2010, just after the BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, seafood restaurants were bombarded with questions from concerned diners: "How bad is the spill?" "Is this from the Gulf?" "Is it safe?" Demand for Gulf seafood tanked.

"You have to remember, that was literally weeks and months on end when you could turn on the TV at any time of day and see an oil well leaking unabatedly into the Gulf of Mexico," says Brett Anderson, feature food writer for Nola.com.

Photo Courtesy of REX

Five years after the BP oil spill, the environmental impacts are still being felt.

According to a report released Monday by the National Wildlife Federation, animals such as dolphins were found dead at four times the historic rates in 2014. The group believes the oil spill may be to blame.

"Bottle-nosed dolphins in the places most-affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill are very sick, their pregnancies are failing, and they're dying in large numbers," said Ryan Fikes, a restoration scientist with the National Wildlife Federation.

Researchers may have a better understanding of red tide blooms. These harmful algal blooms are becoming more persistent. That’s why the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission—along with a group of research partners—recently published a five year red tide study.

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