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Photo Essay: The TEDxOilSpill Expedition Documents Effects of Oil Spill on Communities on The Gulf Coast

TEDxOilSpill Expedition is a week-long project to document the current situation in the Gulf of Mexico and bring a first hand report back to the TEDxOilSpill event in Washington, D.C. on June 28. The expedition is working on land, air, and maybe even on boat. The team is composed of several talented photographers and videographers....

TEDxOilSpill Expedition is a week-long project to document the current situation in the Gulf of Mexico and bring a first hand report back to the TEDxOilSpill event in Washington, D.C. on June 28.


The expedition is working on land, air, and maybe even on boat. The team is composed of several talented photographers and videographers. In addition to documentation of oil on the water and on the beach, the team is particularly interested in the human side of the equation and will be talking to some of the people most affected by the catastrophe in the Gulf. They’ll also be documenting any and all evidence of media interference by BP, the Coast Guard, or other officials.

Learn more about TEDxOilSpill: SpeakersRegisteringAttending the eventAbout TED

TEDxOilSpill Expedition blogs are being reblogged on Nat Geo News Watch.

Tri-State Fisherfolk Rally in Biloxi, MIssissippi – TEDx Oil Spill Expedition

originally posted June 17, 2010


The recent Oil Spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has been on everyone’s mind and media outlets for the past month. Between horrifying photos, misleading information and many failed attempts at stopping the gushing oil well, a growing national frustration has mounted into a direct collective responsibility that something has to be done.


Seagulls gather for rest on dock posts in Dauphin Bay, Alabama – TEDx Oil Spill

A group of environmentally passionate geeks gathered together to organize a TEDxOilSpill that is scheduled to happen in Washington, DC on June 28th. This TED inspired event will bring together the powerful voices that have responded in a call to action over the various facets that amounted to our current oil crisis, including our dependency to fossil fuels, our irresponsibility to our environment and the unregulated parade that is environmental policy.


Pinar Ozger shooting stills from the Ferry

As a precursor to the June 28th event, an TEDxOilSpill Expedition team of photographers, writers and videographers has been sent to the Gulf to capture footage and media. The team consists of Static Photography photographer Kris Krüg, TED photographer Duncan Davidson, videographer Pinar Ozger and WWF writer Darron Collins.


An Almost Perfect Landing by a Brown Pelican in Alabama

The team is scheduled to be covering the coastal areas for a full week, witnessing and documenting the local response to the oil spill, the effect it has on the local coastal communities and the general hold that BP has on the Gulf itself since April 20th. The team has been on the ground for just two and half days yet has covered over 600 miles of the coastal Gulf between Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.


Perdido Beach, Alabama

The next few days on the Gulf will prove to be trying and crucial for the TEDxOilSpill Expedition team. They are scheduled to take to the air and to the deep waters covering remote areas of the Louisiana marsh. One of the tested areas that the team will be visiting is the original location of the Deepwater Horizon oil well, known to the Gulf coastal communities as merely ‘the Source’.


Do Not Enter – Perdido Beach, Alabama

The Expedition team is carrying the responsibility of bearing witness to the effects that the size of this disaster has caused while reporting back a responsive catalog of media that includes comprehensive footage of what is sensationally neglected by various controlled news filters.

Here is the first collection of photos from photographer Kris Krüg from his journey on the TEDxOilSpill Expedition:


A small quote of inspiration to the affected fishing community at a bait and tackle shop on Dauphin Island, Alabama – TEDx Oil Spill



The entire gulf coast is peppered with oil rigs surprisingly very close to the shoreline. Here two oil rigs sit side by side just off the coast of Alabama.


Many wildlife, including various types of seabirds, have felt horrific effects from the Gulf oil disaster. A team of EPA workers checks on some various seabirds, including the recently removed from the endangered species list Brown Pelican on Dauphin Island, Alabama.

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Large fisherfolk communities have been displaced from their livelihood of fishing as an effect of the oil spill. Pictured here are various boats, having been docked for weeks in Biloxi, Mississippi.


The initial first line of defense for the coastlines is excessive miles of protective boom that acts as a superficial means of stopping the approaching crude oil. Every body of water in the Gulf area has boom laid within it.


The TEDxOilSpill Expedition team holds an evening meeting to discuss the day’s findings as well as the upcoming schedule for the next few days.


A most distressing apparent fact is that many of the seabirds photographed are not actually diving into the water, with good reason. Here a flock of Brown Pelicans catch some rest on some rocks in Alabama.

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An environmental cleanup boat is docked in Alabama, awaiting departure; massive storm clouds torment the crisis ridden Gulf; a very brave Brown Pelican attempts a dive along side an oil rig.


Whatever oil touches it stains a deep rust color. In the areas where massive collections of crude oil are not present, the effects of the oil saturation in the Gulf of Mexico can plainly be witnessed.


A 3-State Fisherfolk Press Rally gathered in Biloxi, Mississippi and was largely organized by the displaced Vietnamese fisherfolk communities. Youth leaders and activists created signs with major concerns that need to be addressed by the communities that are being affected.


Local celebrity Billy the Exterminator came out and supported the 3-State Fisherfolk Press Rally in Biloxi, Mississippi. Billy, alongside his Louisiana based exterminator company Vex Con, has a reality television show on A&E called the Billy the Exterminator.

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Brown Pelicans perch upon random signs and posts throughout harbors and bays in the Gulf; a sky view of a New Orleans bridge.


An American Pollution Control boat carries what appears to be hundreds of feet of boom in a small harbor in Biloxi, Mississippi. Often faulty the boom is the first line of defense for targeted coastlines.


Road signs in Alabama. In just over two days the TEDxOilSpill Expedition team covered over 600 miles of the Gulf coast.

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Boats in Mississippi supervise boom laying; photographer Duncan Davidson carries the tools of the trade; beaches in Alabama are stained with the effects of the oil spill.


A biblical quote offers some religious solutions to the crisis stricken communities in the Gulf states.


The normally white sands of Perdido Beach in Alabama were stained with the rust of oil ridden waters. Each wave that broke upon the shore brought more oil and tar balls.

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Photographer Duncan Davidson takes a moment to cool off in the sweltering southern heat; a crew member from the Vex Con exterminator company; a crowd gathered for the 3-State Fisherfolk Press Rally in Biloxi, Mississippi.


Many unused, docked fishing boats are lining the harbors of Gulf coastal towns. Very large areas of the Gulf have been deemed unsafe for fishing and drastically cut into the economic livelihood of many families.


Beautiful blue Gulf coastal waters are outlined by red lines of boom. Just off the coast of Alabama a large collection of crude oil is waiting to hit the shores. Whenever a portion breaks off and travels the 3-5 miles to shore, beach cleanup crews are ready and waiting.

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One of the many oil rigs that sits in the Gulf of Mexico; a Brown Pelican soars high above the waters; rescue boats organize boom in Mississippi.


Local media interviewed participants of the 3-State Fisherfolk Press Rally in Biloxi, Mississippi.


This devastating and ominous sign hung along the wooden walkway at Perdido Beach in Alabama. Not only is the gulf being contaminated by thousands of gallons of crude oil, but the already compromised environment is being furthered polluted by harmful chemicals as a means for cleanup. Unfortunately the toxicity of the oil mixed with cleanup chemicals is worsening the state of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Expedition continues on in the Gulf. Be sure to check back to the official TEDxOilSpill Expedition website for more photos and thoughts from Pinar, Duncan, Darron, and Kris as we continue to document what’s going on with the oil disaster in the Gulf.

All photos in this essay credit: Kris Krüg.

For more information:

Help Support the TEDxOilSpill Expedition Team

TEDxOilSpill event

Static Photography heads down to the Gulf with TEDxOilSpill Expedition

TEDxOilSpill Expedition photos by Kris Krüg

TEDxOilSpill photos by Duncan Davidson

TEDxOilSpill photos by Pinar Ozger

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Author Photo David Max Braun
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn