Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Spill:
100 Days — A Snapshot of NOAA's Response


As the nation’s experts on oceanic and atmospheric science, the lead science agency for oil spills — and the nation's steward for our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes — NOAA has been on the scene from day one, providing coordinated scientific, weather and biological information and products when and where they are needed most.

We have mobilized personnel from across the agency to contain and predict the spreading oil, ensure human health and safety, including the safety of seafood, and protect the Gulf of Mexico’s many marine mammals, sea turtles, fish, and other imperiled sea creatures. Here's a brief snapshot of some of NOAA's efforts and achievements in the first hours — and the first 100 days — of this aggressive and sustained federal response.


NOAA Science Informs

Video of an overview of NOAA's role in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response.

From the very beginning, NOAA has provided extensive scientific expertise and monitoring capabilities to inform daily response operations and to help quantify and better understand the impacts of the spill on the Gulf ecosystems — including its effects on the undersea world. NOAA’s information enables responders to anticipate where the oil is going and predict what areas could be impacted.

The work of NOAA people on-scene and at locations across the United States have helped federal response coordinators more effectively deploy resources to minimize damage and protect highly sensitive ecosystems and wildlife habitats. Our actions have ensured that the sustained federal response has been scientific, strategic and and efficient. An overview of NOAA's role in the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill response video.

Here’s how:

Oil spill trajectory map.

NOAA is working tirelessly to ensure habitats affected or lost due to an oil spill are allowed to flourish once again.

Assessing Ecosystem Damage

Florida coastline.

NOAA is the lead agency for the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process helping identify and quantify short- and long-term impacts to the Gulf of Mexico’s thriving ecosystems. NOAA continues to collaborate with various federal and state agencies, industry, and citizens to collect data in the Gulf of Mexico and across the affected states to determine which natural resources have been harmed, which remain in jeopardy and which human uses have been lost. 

Quantifying these impacts is critical to ensuring that there is a true understanding of the extent of the damages.  This information is used to inform the restoration planning process and ensure people are compensated appropriately for losses.

Here’s how:

Testing samples taken from the Gulf of Mexico.

As is the case across the federal government, NOAA will not rest until the oil is cleaned up, the environment is restored, and all those who have been harmed are compensated.

A team from the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology (NIUST) recovers a box corer used to gather sediment samples from the ocean floor.

As stewards of our nation’s coasts, oceans and marine wildlife, NOAA is extremely concerned about the short-term and long-term impacts of the oil spill on the ecological health of the Gulf of Mexico and the nation.

Keeping Seafood Safe

NOAA’s Fisheries Service is closely monitoring conditions in the Gulf and working with States and local fisherman to ensure that the seafood that is sold at market and served on America’s dinner plates remains safe. NOAA is working with the FDA, EPA and Gulf states to ensure that fish and shellfish harvested from the Gulf of Mexico are safe to eat and of the same high quality people have come to expect. These measures benefit both consumers and the families who make their living from the Gulf’s bounty.

Here’s how:

NOAA seafood inspection.

“This event has highlighted the interconnectedness of the ocean environment with our day-to-day lives and the importance of ocean resources to American communities.”
—David Kennedy, NOAA National Ocean Service Acting Assistant Administrator and NOAA Deepwater Horizon Incident Commander

NOAA expertise and science, paired with long-standing partnerships with local and academic organizations, are critical to the long-term recovery of the Gulf of Mexico’s productive coastline, vibrant fisheries and thriving wildlife.

Protecting Wildlife and Habitats

Coastal habitat.

From microscopic organisms to sperm whales to marshes to the deep ocean, Gulf Coast wildlife and habitats are better protected from the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon/BP disaster because of our efforts. As stewards of our nation’s coasts, oceans and marine wildlife, NOAA is vitally concerned about the short-term and long-term impacts of the oil spill on the ecological health of the Gulf of Mexico and the marine life it supports.

Over the past 100 days, NOAA experts have been working with a network of partners to rescue and rehabilitate sea turtles and marine mammals, as well as helping to determine the highest priority areas in need of direct response resources, such as the deployment of boom and shoreline cleanup crews.

Here’s how: