Gulf of Oil: Endangered Wetlands

Gulf of Oil: Endangered Wetlands

Ask your students to recognize and analyze the sometimes-complicated effects of oil rigs and pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico on the neighboring wetlands.


5 - 8



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Morgan Stanley

Idea for Use in the Classroom

The wetlands bordering the Gulf of Mexico have tremendous natural resources, including oil reserves. But the wetlands are threatened by many human-made intrusions, some specifically caused by the oil industry.

Examine the current state of the Gulf of Mexico with your students using the accompanying Endangered Wetlands Map. First, using National Geographic MapMaker, locate and project the area depicted in the graphic and have students make observations about the area. Then share the Endangered Wetlands map and give students time to review and take notes on the various effects oil rigs and pipelines have on the wetlands. Be sure to direct students to the legend and discuss or review the terms together.

As a class, create a T-chart of the pros and cons of running the oil pipelines from the ocean through the wetlands. Discuss these questions:

  1. How does erosion and new land formation put the area’s wildlife in danger?
  2. How does development impede the natural regeneration of the marshland?
  3. How do pipelines create risks of oil spills, mixing salt and fresh water, and pollution, and what are the effects if these problems occur?

Then, using resources online or in the library, have students research the proposal to create a large-scale diversion of the Mississippi River to feed the marshes (mentioned in item one of the accompanying map, New Delta Land). Students will then write a short essay either in favor of or against this plan, concentrating on long-term effects on the land, using data from their research.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Last Updated

June 21, 2024

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