GMC – June 27, 2013: As the Gulf Coast continues to clean up from the largest accidental oil-spill on the planet, there are many important and sensitive ecosystems that have been damaged, or are threatened by future human activity. To guide decision-makers planning restoration and preservation projects in the Gulf of Mexico, the Ocean Conservancy has released an atlas of this important ecosystem. This great resource contains a wealth of information about the Gulf, and highlights some of the many special places that Gulf Monitoring Consortium member organizations work to understand and protect.
Ocean Conservancy – June 2013: A vast and bountiful place, the Gulf of Mexico is one of the nation’s most diverse ecosystems. Ocean Conservancy has developed a region-wide coastal and marine atlas to aid decision-makers as they plan current and future restoration and management strategies in the region.
The Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem: A Coastal and Marine Atlas includes maps and companion descriptions of 54 physical and geographic features, animals, habitats, environmental stressors and human uses in the Gulf of Mexico.
By accessing the best data available, scientists at Ocean Conservancy have created a suite of easily readable maps to show how the Gulf’s coastal and marine ecosystems are connected and interdependent.
The atlas was developed to:
- Provide a big-picture view of the Gulf of Mexico and its resources
- Support a multi-layered understanding of how the Gulf ecosystem functions
- Highlight overlapping distributions and ecological linkages
- Serve as a tool for identifying knowledge gaps
Restoring the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem requires a holistic approach that addresses not only the effects of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster but also the reversal of long-term environmental degradation. The goal of the atlas is to serve as a reference tool and help decision-makers determine how best to allocate funding toward restoration efforts.
Using the Atlas
Species recovery—Use the maps to identify and target areas of overlapping species ranges to implement restoration measures that benefit multiple species.
Hazardous material spill planning and response—Use the distributions of species and habitats to identify resources at greatest risk from oil spills.
Ocean resource management—Use the distribution map of rare, slow-growing deep-water corals to inform the siting of oil and gas platforms and pipelines.
Explore the natural and man-made features of the Gulf through this interactive map from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):