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Gulf of Mexico: Overview

In early August 2010, Oceana launched a two-month research expedition in the Gulf of Mexico to assess the long-term impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The expedition took place aboard the Oceana Latitude, a 170-foot vessel capable of sailing in both shallow and deep waters, and adapted to serve as a diving platform.

The expedition team, led by Oceana’s Chief Scientist Mike Hirshfield and Oceana’s vice president for Europe, Xavier Pastor, included research by Dr. Jeff Short, Oceana’s Pacific science director and one of the world’s leading experts on Exxon Valdez and the effects of oil spills.

The crew also included scientists, divers and underwater photographers from our U.S., Chile and Spain offices, as well as academic scientists.

The team tested for underwater oil and studied important seafloor habitats as well as the migratory marine life affected by the spill, including endangered sea turtles as well as the rare whale shark.

While most of the media attention surrounded the visible oil on the surface of the Gulf, our expedition explored the impacts of the unseen, underwater oil that damaged marine wildlife and habitats in the Gulf and will likely continue to do so for years to come.