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On the spill, more questions than answers

On April 20 last year, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded. Eleven men died, and two days later the rig began spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Five million barrels of oil would gush out before BP was able to cap the well in July. The company would also spray 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersant to prevent at least some of it from reaching shore. Still, 2.5 million pounds of oil hit Florida's shores. A year later, though, "the data tells us the water is safe, the seafood is safe and the beaches are safe," said Keith Lee Rupp of BP America.

Despite that rosy take, efforts to assess the damage from the largest spill in U.S. history are far from complete. Scientists are probing the ocean bottom, and examining the water, the corals, the oysters, the fish, the sand on the beaches. They have found more questions than answers.


The latest stories

What's going on?

Take a look at graphics that help explain the oil's Florida impact.


Nov. 17

Photojournalists chronicled the spill and its aftermath.

Now it's a cash flow

April 2011

The Gulf Coast Claims Facility has distributed $3.8 billion to cover oil spill damages in the five gulf states. Find out where the money went.

Added June 15, ongoing

A federal map with comprehensive spill data designed to assist emergency responders and environmental resource managers.

Weatherbird II

June 14

Find out how USF marine scientists are studying whether underwater clouds discovered in the Gulf of Mexico can be traced to the BP oil spill.


From USF: Forecasted ocean currents

Added June 8, ongoing

USF scientists use aerial photos to detect the slick's location each day and then forecast its movement using ocean and wind current models.

If you put the BP spill in your tank

May 30

We now know the BP leak in the Gulf of Mexico is the worst oil spill in U.S. history, but it is still hard to understand its magnitude in everyday terms.


Changes in the gulf loop current

May 20

Now that it has entered the Gulf of Mexico's loop current, oil could threaten fragile coral and other ecosystems in the Florida Keys.

Perspective: The Cat in the BP Hat

May 23

Thumbing through Dr. Seuss' 1958 book The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, we saw parallels to BP and the spill in the Gulf of Mexico | Audio recording of the poem


What if it happened here?

May 18

Here is the ecological disaster we would face if oil were erupting underwater 50 miles off our shore instead of Louisiana's.

Impact on Louisiana's wetlands

May 5

Shorelines all around the gulf as well as Florida's Keys and east coast could be endangered.


Other spills

April 29

Learn how this oil spill compares to other man-made disasters, including a 1993 ship collision in Tampa Bay.

Spill impact

Learn what companies and industries are impacted by the spill.


Politics of oil

Industry and government officials testified that major rig incidents are catastropic but rare.

The Deepwater Horizon rig disaster photo gallery

The latest on Twitter

After a deepwater drilling rig exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana on April 20, about 4.9 million barrels of oil spewed into the water. The spill was capped on July 15, but its aftermath still affects Florida.

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