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Facts about the Gulf Coast

The Gulf Oil Spill began on April 20 as the result of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion. Oil has been gushing out at alarming rates since then, becoming the largest offshore spill in U.S. history and one of the most devastating disasters along the Gulf Coast. Communities along the gulf that were still in the process of recovering from hurricanes Katrina and Rita were dealt another devastating blow. With the deadly oil swamping the coast and destroying ecosystems, the livelihoods of many communities and subsistence individuals have been threatened and left these individuals with great frustration and sorrow and little hope or faith for the future.


The Gulf of Mexico has 1631 miles of coastline and over 16,000 miles of shoreline  (including bays and inland waterways). source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)


Nearly ½ of all US coastal wetlands – over 5 million acres – are located along the Gulf. source: EPA


The coastal plains of the western Gulf are used by nearly all of the migratory land bird species of the eastern US, as well as many western species. source: US Geological Survey


From New Orleans seafood restaurants to Florida vacation rentals, the Gulf’s annual tourist industry is estimated at over $100 billion. source: USA Today


The Gulf waters are home to 73% of the shrimp and 59% of the oysters harvested in the United States each year and a total of 1.3 billion pounds of seafood valued at over $650 million. source: EPA


60,000 barrels: The amount of oil believed to be gushing from the spill. That's twelve times more than the original estimate of 5,000 barrels a day. In all, 60,000 barrels a day means an estimated 2.5 million gallons a day is leaking into the Gulf. (Source: Business Week)


130 miles long and 70 miles wide: Size of the oil slick as of May 17. The slick continues to grow and move. (Source: New Orleans Times Picayune)


Less than 4: The number of hours the millions of barrels of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico would have powered the U.S. Economy. (Source: NPR)


436,000 gallons: Number of gallons of dispersant sprayed on the oil spill to break it up. Thus far, around 4 million gallons of oily water have been recovered. (Source: AP)


12,000: Number of Louisiana residents who have filed for unemployment since the spill, most of which have come from the southern part of the state most closely impacted by the spill. (Source: Daily Finance)


$1.6 billion: The confirmed cost of the Gulf oil spill to BP, as of June 14, 2010. (Source: Press Association)


$1.5 billion: Amount in insurance claims experts believe the BP spill will cost insurers. (Source: Business Week)


$62 million: Amount paid out in claims to 26,500 Gulf residents, as of June 14, 2010. (Source: Press Association)


400: Number of wildlife species threatened by the spill. Threatened species include sea life such as whales, tuna and shrimp; dozens of species of birds; land animals such as the gray fox and white-tailed deer; and amphibians such as the alligator and the snapping turtle. (Source: New Orleans Times-Picayune)


25 million: Number of birds that traverse the Gulf Coast per day, and which are potentially at risk from the oil spill. According to the LA Times Greenspace Blog, "Late spring is the peak time for neo-tropical songbirds moving from the Yucatan Peninsula to make their first landfall in Louisiana," and "more than 70% of the country's waterfowl frequent the gulf's waters." (Source: LA Times Greenspace Blog)


400: Number of oil projects illegally approved for operation in the Gulf of Mexico under Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, the oil surveys and drilling operations threaten marine mammal life in the region. (Source: Center for Biological Diversity)


27: Number of offshore gulf drilling operations approved since the BP spill. Two of those were awarded to BP. (Source: Center for Biological Diversity)


30 percent: Percent of the nation's oil production derived from the Gulf of Mexico. (Source: E2 Wire)


19.5 million barrels: Amount of oil consumed in the United States per day. (Source: CIA Country Handbook 2008)