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Seven Years after Deepwater Horizon, Florida Researchers Assess Health of the Gulf

Photo: NOAA Office of Response and Restoration via Flickr Creative Commons

Seven years ago today, the offshore drilling unit known as the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Eleven people died, and the destruction blew out the undersea well nearly a mile below the surface. Scientists are still studying how the worst oil spill in U.S. history, and the release of more than 4.9 million barrels of oil, is impacting the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.

Oil giant BP reached a more than $20 billion settlement with the federal government and Gulf Coast states in 2015, with Florida receiving $3.25 billion, $2 billion of which was allocated for economic losses, more than any other state. The remaining $1.25 billion is still being spent today by scientists and researchers in multiple countries as they assess the long-term impact of the massive oil spill on the plants, animals, coasts, and water in the Gulf.

Thursday at 1 p.m. on Gulf Coast Live, Dr. Steve Murwaski discusses the health of the Gulf today as a marine ecosystems researcher at USF and as a lead scientist for C-IMAGE, a team of 19 institutions spread across five countries studying the impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill on the Gulf of Mexico.

Also joining the program is Dr. Kevan Main with Mote Marine Labs, studying the impact of oil on three Gulf fish species: red drum, flounder, and pompano.

And Dr. Michael Parsons, FGCU professor of marine science and director of Coastal Watershed Institute, joins the program to discuss direct impacts to the marine and coastal ecosystems along Southwest Florida's Gulf Coast.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.