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On the Scene in the Gulf with
Tom Moore


On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caught fire. Three days later, Tom Moore was diving in the waters of the Florida Keys with NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco—celebrating Earth Day week and demonstrating the success of one of our coral restoration Recovery Act projects—when the rig sank into the Gulf of Mexico. He immediately sprang into action, providing Dr. Lubchenco with information about potential impacts arising from the spill.

"I've been involved with NOAA's response since day one," says Moore, a habitat restoration specialist based in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Moore spent the first weeks after the spill getting research vessels out on the water to monitor impacts from the oil to offshore fisheries. Then, earlier this month, he relocated to Houma, Louisiana, the Incident Command Post for federal agencies responding to the spill. He is now serving as the field operations coordinator for NOAA. He is coordinating field teams that are assessing habitat and wildlife for impacts from the spill and is working to ensure their safety and accountability while juggling logistics in an area with limited communications.

Tom is one of almost 60 staff from the Office of Habitat Conservation currently involved in the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Other staff are:

  • Conducting baseline data on water and soil quality on the Gulf shores.
  • Leading technical working groups addressing impacts to deep water corals, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), sediments, and fisheries.
  • Conducting shoreline assessments and SAV sampling.
  • Assessing injuries to natural resources, such as wildlife and coral reefs, from oil contamination.
  • Working on teams looking for submerged oil in the Gulf.
  • Developing plans for restoration to address impacts from the spill, once the leak has stopped.

Moore anticipates he will be working in his new role for at least the next six months, while others will likely be working on Deepwater Horizon response for years.