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Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Clean Up: How To Help

Updated on June 13, 2011

As the oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster continues to spread, the lives of millions of sea creatures is being taken at the same time the livelihoods of thousands of people in the fishing and hospitality industry is being destroyed. The images emerging from the disaster seem to grow more horrifying every day.

Many want to help, but unlike primarily human disasters, such as the Haiti earthquake, the organizations working to clean up the Gulf are for the most part not as well known as organizations such as the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. This can lead to feelings of helplessness and uncertainty among would-be donors and volunteers, and impact the speed and effectiveness of the disaster response.

This hub is a guide for people who want to help, but are unsure where to begin.

IMPORTANT: If You Have Found an Oiled Animal


Crude oil is a hazardous substance and training is required to properly handle, transport, or clean contaminated materials, including living or dead animals. In addition, frightened wildlife may lash out at would-be rescuers, causing injury.

If you are not a trained rescuer, please call 1-866-557-1401 to report oiled wildlife.

If possible, try to have the following information ready:

  • Type (and number) of animal(s)
  • Location (be as specific as possible, e.g. beach name, where on beach)
  • Time last seen
  • Your phone number

More Useful Telephone Numbers

Report spill related damage: 1-800-440-0858

Report oil on land: 1-866-448-5816

Submit your vessel as a vessel of opportunity skimming system: 1-281-366-5511

Submit alternative response technology, services or products: 1-281-366-5511

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade, in conjunction with Tulane University, is hosting the Oil Spill Crisis Map, an unofficial event tracking map to report oil smells, oiled wildlife, oil on shore, boom failures, and other incidents by text, Twitter, email, and more.

If You Wish To Volunteer

Several large national environmental organizations are involved in cleanup efforts.

The National Audubon Society is training volunteers to assist in cleaning animals affected by the spill.

The National Wildlife Federation is recruiting volunteers, especially experienced birders, naturalists, and other experienced in wildlife identification, to assist in surveying the extent of the damage. The NWF is also seeking volunteers to assist with wildlife rescue and rehabilitation efforts and general coastal cleanup.

The Sierra Club is also accepting volunteers.

Louisiana Gulf Response is a coalition consisting of a number of active, established organizations, both local and national, accepting volunteers to help coastal Louisiana doing everything from wildlife rescue and rehabilitation to preparing food for fellow volunteers.

Many local or smaller national organizations also need volunteers to assist with their work in the region:

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network is registering volunteers to help with wildlife rescue and rehabilitation.

eBird needs volunteers to assist with surveying Gulf Coast bird populations to help prioritize rescue efforts.

The Alabama Coastal Foundation and the Alabama Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives are registering volunteers.

Volunteer Florida and United Way of South Mississippi are seeking volunteers to help with volunteer support efforts.

Mobile Baykeeper and Global Green USA are registering volunteers.

Grassroots Mapping is seeking volunteers to help map the oil slick.

If You Wish To Donate

The following is a partial list of reputable organizations accepting donations to assist in Gulf Recovery Efforts:

If you have a boat, consider donating/lending it to Vessels of Opportunity.

For a unique donation opportunity, check out Matter of Trust. Matter of Trust uses donated hair to assist in oil spill cleanup. One time or recurring donations of hair, fur, fleece, feathers, and nylons are accepted from individuals, salons, pet owners, llama/alpaca/sheep owners, groomers, and more. For more information, visit the Instructions page.

Make a Difference With Matter of Trust

If You Want To Support Fishing Communities

73% of US shrimp and 59% of US oysters come from the Gulf, as well as significant amounts of snappers, groupers, and more. The impact on both fishing communities and seafood prices is likely to be significant.

To keep updated on sustainable seafood options and support fishing communities in the Gulf and around the world, visit Seafood Watch.

If You're Mad as Hell and Won't Take It Anymore

If You Want To Attack the Root of the Problem

You can boycott BP and its subsidiaries Castrol, Arco, Aral, am/pm, Amoco, Wild Bean Cafe, and Safeway gas, but where oil and gas is concerned, the alternatives are no better. Consider the destruction of the Prince William Sound herring fishery by Exxon and the social and environmental disasters perpetrated on Nigeria by Shell and Ecuador by Chevron-Texaco.

A more meaningful step is to reduce your consumption of oil and gas altogether.

  • Walk, bike, carpool, or use public transportation whenever possible.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated and your car well maintained.
  • Choose energy efficient appliances, lightbulbs, small electronics, and other products.
  • Support clean, sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels, such as wind and solar.
  • Reduce your consumption of petroleum-based products.
  • Join the Transition Town movement.
  • Live green.


Other Sites of Interest

Gulf Clean - a forum for discussion of alternative response ideas

Deepwater Horizon Response - the official website for the disaster

EPA Response - the EPA's official webpage on the disaster

Gulf Restoration Network - a Gulf environmental organization with an extensive collection of resources and action alerts relating to the BP oil spill


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    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 5 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Before we get too carried away let's not forget that although BP is theoretically a UK company, over 50% of it is owned by USA shareholders and it is they who put restrictions on how much is spent on preventative measures. In addition the operation of the oil wells was controlled by a USA owned and controlled company who despite warnings refused to take appropriate measures to avoid accidental spillage. I won't even bother on commenting how this spillage suited Obamas political aims at the time.

      The whole debacle is a total disgrace.

      Kind regards Peter

    • noorin profile image

      noorin 7 years ago from Canada

      Very informative, ur donation list as well as the contact number are extremely helpful =) Thanks Kerryg =)

    • dealrocker profile image

      dealrocker 7 years ago from California

      Hi kerryg! This post was really amazing. Great information. Passing this information to some of my friends. Hope they will contribute for this noble cause. Good effort!

      Liked your other hubs too. Joining your fanclub and would like to invite you to join me. :)

    • jman00001 profile image

      jman00001 7 years ago from Texas

      Interesting article with lots of detailed research.

      Thanks! for rolling stones article which clearly blames bush & co for this disaster back on June 8th . Hey, wasn’t that just a few weeks before the shocking Gen. Stanley McChrystal scandal interview (also by Rolling Stone mag) that resulted in him being fired. Hmmm) some right wingers might almost believe in conspiracy between the magazine and the Obama/ Pelosi administration if that sort of thing keeps up.

      I did not notice anything on:

      - BP company being the most “liberal” in the entire industry. Ranked highest for its pro gay/ anti American stances for more than a decade now.

      - BP being a foreign owned firm, governed by a mostly socialistic government policy that was the oil industries biggest $$ supporter of Obama’s campaign

      - BP individuals responsible for many of the key decisions causing the spill being no US and being pro liberal politically

      - The real story behind the MMS ( not just the put up (PR smear job) reported)

      - The real story as to WHY protective berms and skimmers were not deployed many weeks sooner… ( More to the point, why the US coast guard and others were not Allowed to by Obama until after week’s of begging by the USCG staff and state officials))

      Every time you see oil covered animals on oily beaches, wake up and realize that IS directly/ partially the Obama administrations fault – by delaying the berms & skimmers. There is evidence building that the delay may not have just been mismanaged and slow but could have been purposeful due to political maneuvering. Yes- we can blame Bush of course ( the fact he has been out of office for almost 2 years and has no political power now probably won’t stop that)

      The silly political stuff out of the way, the links shared are very useful to interact and support the relief and clean up efforts. These are appreciated!

    • Bob Ratcliff profile image

      Bob Ratcliff 7 years ago from Florida

      Excellent content and living here in Florida with Hurricane season upon us, it is only a matter of time before a storm hits the gulf making it much worse, if that can be said!

    • profile image

      Christine Siglinger  7 years ago

      Thank you for such a resourceful article.!!!

    • profile image

      Karina 7 years ago

      This is AWESOME info!! Thanks!

    • HealthyHanna profile image

      HealthyHanna 7 years ago from Utah

      Thanks for compiling the information. This oil spill is a really big thing. It is alarming.

    • Spirtit Bay profile image

      Spirtit Bay 7 years ago from Pass Christian MS

      The folks at Mobile Bay Keepers are awesome and are mobilizing volunteers for both Mobile Bay and Florida Panhandle.

    • rebekahELLE profile image

      rebekahELLE 7 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thumbs up kerry! this is a great resource page. thanks for sharing it here. we have known from the beginning that it is much bigger than we have/are being told. Being pro-active is our best choice.

    • Tuckerp profile image

      Tuckerp 7 years ago from Clifton Tx

      Yea make BP go belly up . So the Tax payer has to pick up the tab . That's real smart . Go ahead and do all you say . And they will take the money and run . And live rich lives happy ever after .

    • reddog1027 profile image

      reddog1027 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks for putting information, how to help and the necessary contacts all in one place. I have bookmarked this hub.

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Well Done!

    • okmom23 profile image

      Donna Oliver 7 years ago from Midwest, U.S.A.

      Kerry, Great article!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      This is a disgusting way of handling the oil spill by BP. Absolutely disgusting. Surely, Surely something could have been done to prevent it.

    • Wendy Krick profile image

      Wendy Krick 7 years ago from Maryland

      Excellent Article!

    • Ohma profile image

      Ohma 7 years ago

      Kerry Fantastic info. I hope many people find their way to this article.