The catastrophic explosion that caused an oil spill from a BP offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico has reached the shoreline. Efforts to manage the spill with controlled burning, dispersal and plugging the leak have so far been unsuccessful. This oil spill has now obtained the dubious distinction of being the worst oil spill in US history, surpassing the damage done by the Exxon Valdez tanker that spilled 11 million gallons of oil into the ecologically sensitive Prince William Sound in 1989. Unlike the Exxon Valdez tragedy, in which a tanker held a finite capacity of oil, BP’s rig is tapped into an underwater oil well and could pump more oil into the ocean indefinitely until the leak is plugged.
Here are updated photos of oil hitting coastlines and the damage throughout the ocean, which poses a serious threat to fishermen’s livelihoods, marine habitats, beaches, wildlife and human health.