Matagorda Island and Galveston Bay Oil Spill

Anna Hrybyk 2

Anna Hrybyk, Program Manager

To our friends living near the Houston Ship Channel, Galveston Bay and Matagorda Island:

We have been tracking the oil spill response to the oil impacting your environment from ship-barge collision near Texas City in the Houston Ship Channel.


To update those of us who are not located in the Galveston area:  As of Monday, March 31, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service teams report 21 dolphins and 4 turtles stranded. Most of these are in the Galveston area but reports from Matagorda Island are increasing.  All of the dolphins were dead, two turtles were captured alive and are being rehabilitated.  Approximately 150 dead birds have been reported in the Galveston area and 30 in the Matagorda area.

Click here to see the oil spill clean up operations underway as we speak in the Matagorda Island area:

Here in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico, we are no stranger to oil spills, environmental impacts and clean up response efforts.  After the BP Oil Disaster, LABB and our partners launched the iWitness Pollution Map, which allows users to publicly document and disclose the oil spill’s effects on our water and air, our wildlife and habitat, our shores and marshes, our livelihoods and mental health.

Today the iWitness Pollution Map contains over 13,000 reports of oil and petrochemical pollution across the Gulf of Mexico.  The Gulf Monitoring Consortium and LABB work together to publicly disclose the impacts of all petrochemical accidental releases across the Gulf of Mexico.

We have been tracking Unified Command spill response updates and we saw that as a part of the U.S. Coast Guard-led Area Contingency Plan, Unified Command has approved the use of unpaid volunteers to conduct 26 miles of shoreline assessments.  Volunteer Coordinators from the Galveston Bay Foundation and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary have scheduled approximately 150 volunteers per day.  Each Sentinel team is assigned to a specific section of shoreline and beaches between San Luis Pass and the west end of Stewart Beach that are being surveyed on foot. Volunteers will search the shorelines for oil, oiled birds and wildlife, or other impacts, then report their findings to the Unified Command Post, so trained oil spill responders and wildlife rehabilitation specialists can be deployed to the scene.

With the iWitness Pollution Map, we can all be Volunteer Sentinels publicly documenting the oil’s impacts to our shores, wildlife, health and air quality.  The iWitness Pollution Map stands as a public record of oil contamination throughout the Gulf Coast.  Photographs and videos can be uploaded and exact GPS coordinates can be entered.

If you would like to be a part of the iWitness Pollution Map, please visit the website here, sign up to get alerts here and submit reports via:

  1. Text your report to (504) 272-7645
  2. Call in your report to (504) 272-7645
  3. Email your reports, photos and videos to
  4. Submit a report, photos or video online here


Remember, the five qualities of a good report are:

  1. What date did you witness pollution?
  2. Where were you?
  3. How did it smell?
  4. How did it make you feel?
  5. Where do you think it is coming from?

What do we do with your reports?  Reports to the iWitness Pollution Map serve five main purposes:

  1. Identify hot spots of pollution for first responders.
  2. Connect concerned community members.
  3. Publicly disclose the impacts of petrochemical pollution in the Gulf of Mexico in real-time.
  4. Improve our outreach and programs.
  5. Increase enforcement of and compliance with environmental laws.

Go team!

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