The Gulf of Mexico is an incredible haven for wildlife—home to approximately 15,000 unique species of wildlife, including 28 types of dolphins and whales, 49 species of sharks, and five different sea turtles.
The National Wildlife Federation has long worked to improve the health of the Gulf of Mexico for people and wildlife, and to protect the way of life of the 50 million people who live near the Gulf. Over the decades, we have championed the restoration of Louisiana’s rapidly-eroding Mississippi River Delta, advocated for the restoration of the Everglades, and protected freshwater flowing to the Texas coast.
When the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, causing significant harm across the Gulf, we were a leading voice calling for justice for the Gulf and championing using the fines resulting from the spill on comprehensive ecosystem restoration.
We are currently focused on ensuring that key coastal habitats are restored and that we move quickly to increase the Gulf’s resilience to sea level rise and other impacts of climate change—with an emphasis on natural defenses such as barrier islands, oyster reefs, floodplains, wetlands and mangroves. We also advocate for protecting wildlife and natural systems in the deeper waters of the Gulf.
The National Wildlife Federation has a long history of advocacy in the Gulf of Mexico. Here are just a few of our accomplishments:
• Helped secure passage of the RESTORE Act in 2012 in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster--and we are still advocating for the use of Deepwater Horizon penalties on meaningful restoration projects today.
• Contributed to the Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, which addresses the state’s land-loss crisis by restoring wetlands, barrier islands and reconnecting the river with its delta.
• Helped shape the recommendations for more than $1 billion in projects to restore the vast area damaged by the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) shipping canal.
• Championed the comprehensive Everglades restoration plan in 2000 and have continued to advocate for key elements in that plan on Capitol Hill.
• Influenced the creation of Texas’ Coastal Resilience Master Plan.
Learn more about what we have done and continue to do in the Gulf of Mexico — read our strategic plan here.
Restoring a Ravaged Coast
A decade after the worst oil spill in U.S. history, settlement funds from the disaster are flowing into projects to revive the Gulf Coast’s degraded habitats.
Corals in the depths of the Gulf suffered a direct hit from the spill—but some are showing signs of resilience.
Region on the Half Shell
Along the U.S. Gulf Coast, oysters are key to healthy wildlife, thriving local economies and long-term security of the shoreline itself.
From weary migratory songbirds to breeding shorebirds and wintering waterfowl, millions of birds rely on tattered Gulf Coast habitats to survive.
Gulf Coast: Much Accomplished, Much Left to Do
A healthy Gulf requires addressing past mistakes and facing newer challenges by harnessing nature-based solutions.
Staging A Gulf Recovery
During the 2010 spill, the oily reach of gushing crude (in orange) extended across 1,300 miles of Gulf coast, fouling waters and shorelines that still suffer ill effects today. Fortunately, scores of restoration projects—such as the examples below—are offering new hope for the region’s recovery.
9 Things You Didn't Know About the Deepwater Horizon Disaster
... And How We Can Restore the Gulf of Mexico
Environment, Community, Economy
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More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 53 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.