The Gulf Spill, How You Can Help

Satellite image of the oil spill taken on May 21, 2010 // Photo:

Satellite image of the oil spill taken on May 21, 2010 // Photo:

By Alex Wilson

On April 20 a British Petroleum oilrig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded, sank, and began to leak between 5,000 and 95,000 gallons of crude per day. (Some scientists even estimate the spill's volume to be larger, citing numbers that would put the fallout closer to 126-million gallons total, which would make this incident roughly eleven times the size of the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989.) And while the frontend of the slick has only just begun to reach shore, the rig continues to leak, deepening fears that this situation will only get worse.

"In the next week or so we'll really get a sense of how bad this is," say Surfrider's Environmental Director, Chad Nelson. "It's going to hit the beaches along the Gulf Coast and there's a chance it could get sucked into the Gulf Stream and wrap around and hit the whole East Coast of Florida as well. We really don't know at this point. But even if they cut the thing off tomorrow, it could still impact the beaches for weeks. The whole Gulf is literally starting to fill up with oil and now that oil is heading toward the coast."

In an effort to track, document, and aid in the cleanup effort, Surfrider has partnered with SkyTruth and the Ocean Conservancy to launch an online "spill tracker" where anyone can upload photos and submit an incident report of the conditions at their local beach. "We're going to be collecting reports both before and after the spill hits the coast," says Nelsen, which means the organizations have asked anyone with access to the affected regions for immediate help.

To get involved, visit