The spill that followed the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform off the coast of Louisiana has become the worst oil spill in American history. Dramatic imagery helps to tell the story of the disaster that is transforming the American Gulf coast.
CNBC.com will continue to update this slideshow as events warrant.
Click ahead for images from the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
By Paul Toscano, Florence Zaitoun, Christina Cheddar-Berk and Paul Alvord
Posted April 30 2010
Al Gros looks listens to Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, speak at a town hall meeting about the $20 billion fund set up to pay damage claims from the BP oil spill July 15, 2010, in Lafitte, Louisiana.
Near the source of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, oil sheen is shown on the water on July 18, 2010. Scientists continue to monitor the area near where BP's oil well has been sealed, looking for signs that the well is leaking or if the pressure in the well changes.
BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill National Incident Commander Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen points to an illustration of the well cap stack and where leaks have been spotted during a news conference at the Department of Health and Human Services July 19, 2010, in Washington, DC.
Allen said that the oil and gas are leaking from the new cap on BP's ruptured oil well are not a major concern so far.
A worker makes adjustments to oil boom July 19, 2010, near Pointe Aux Chenes, Louisiana. Officials are concerned about potential leakage spotted near BP's newly installed oil well cap which appeared to be sealed.
A 75-ton cap was placed atop the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and gradually values in the cap were shut. On the left, oil flows from two of three values. On the right, the top of the cap is shown minutes after the flow of oil was choked off on July 15.
US President Barack Obama speaks on the BP oil spill in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC. Obama Friday gave a cautious welcome to the "good news" that BP has halted the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, saying a permanent solution still needed to be put in place.
Workers onboard the Transocean Discoverer Inspiration are deploying the 3 Ram Capping Stack to the Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer in hopes of containing the spill and stopping the flow of oil.
A can is seen coated with oil that washed ashore from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Greenpeace activists invite pedestrians in Vienna to write a message to the BP oil company on a giant banner, reading: 'Oil Kills,' in the center of the company's logo.
Oil coats a barrier on the shoreline as high winds and waves caused the cancellation of cleanup operations on the beach.
BP protests continue as crews on the scene come close to plugging the leak on the ocean floor. In this photo, a protester holds a sign mocking former Vice Presidental candidate and former Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, for her support of offshore drilling.
A slick of oil is seen on the beach after it washed ashore from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
New satellite imagery from NASA shows the affected areas in the Gulf of Mexico on June 27, 2010.
Oil cleanup workers are evacuated from the beach, as a feeder band from Tropical Storm Alex causes high winds and lightning in the area around Fourchon Beach on June 29, 2010, in Port Fourchon, Louisiana.
Containment boom is seen placed on the beach. Efforts to clean the beach from effects of the Deepwater Horizon spill stopped due to bad weather created by Tropical Storm Alex on June 29, 2010, on Elmer's Island, Louisiana.
Workers are seen in Port Fourchon, Louisiana as they use a vacuum hose to capture some of the oil washing on to Fourchon Beach from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on June 28, 2010.
Oil burns and creates plumes of smoke near the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on June 19, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.
Deployment of boom on the Oyster River on the Bon Secour Bay on the Inter Coastal Waterway.
Booms laid for protection at Breton National Wildlife Refuge, near Venice, LA.
Workers clean tar balls from beaches in Perdido Key, Florida.
ROV operations onboard Discoverer Enterprise, on the site of the Deepwater Horizon incident. Gas and oil from the wellhead are being brought to the surface via a tube that was placed inside the damaged pipe.
Workers use a vacuum as they continue the cleanup of oil in Barataria Bay, near Grand Isle, Louisiana, on June 19, 2010.
The Discoverer Enterprise burns off gas as it collects oil at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on June 19, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana.
An oil-stained Sandwich Tern sits on oil absorbent boom in Long Bay on June 19, 2010, west of Port Sulpher, Louisiana. The bird was reported and delivered to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for rehabilitation.
A worker walks through the main operations room for the Houma Deepwater Horizon Unified Command June 17, 2010, in Schriever, Louisiana.
The command center, a 24-hour operation employing hundreds of workers, consists of BP employees, the United States Coast Guard and a variety of state and local agencies coordinating in the cleanup operation for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
A pelican flies over an oil slick boom off of Bird Island Two in Grand Isle, Louisiana. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, some 1,282 oiled birds have been captured in time to be treated with the intention of eventually releasing them back into the wild.
The nation is continually reminded of the oil leaking from the ocean's floor via BP's underwater cameras. Authorities have recently revised their estimates of oil leaking to between 40,000 and 60,000 barrels per day.
A contract clean-up worker uses a hose to collect oil in Bay Jimmy on June 15, 2010, off of Grand Isle, Louisiana.
BP CEO Tony Hayward appears before a House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on 'The Role Of BP In The Deepwater Horizon Explosion And Oil Spill', in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 17, 2010.
Hayward is appeared before members of Congress as the historical and deadly oil spill disaster is nearing two months. Hayward promised angry lawmakers that he would 'take action' against any of his employees found to have put costs over safety ahead of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Members of Congress, however, we dissatisfied with Haywar, accusing him of "stonewalling" and dodging questions regarding the spill.
Workers lay out new lines of boom along a pier on June 14, 2010, in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
US President Barack Obama poses with patrons at Tacky Jacks Bar and Grill where he stopped for dinner June 14, 2010, in Orange Beach, Alabama.
The President vowed to protect the way of life of residents in the oil-hit Gulf of Mexico region, as the US government ramped up efforts to ensure seafood is safe to eat.
A sign announces the closing of a seafood stand due to the oil spill June 13, 2010, in Lafourche, Louisiana. The spill has been called the largest environmental disaster in American history. U.S. government scientists have estimated that the flow rate of oil gushing out of a ruptured Gulf of Mexico oil well may be as high 40,000 barrels per day.
Workers shovel oiled sand hit by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill from the Gulf of Mexico to be disposed as cleanup crews work to clean the beach at Grand Isle State Park in Grand Isle, Louisiana, June 13, 2010.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks with employees in the oil and gas industry about U.S. President Obama`s moratorium on Deep Water Drilling June 10, 2010, at a port slip used for ships involved in the oil drilling business in Port Fourchon, Louisiana.
A flare burns from a drill ship recovering oil from the ruptured BP oil well over the site in the Gulf of Mexico on June 9, 2010, off the coast of Louisiana.
As the oil continues to spread, officials have announced a ban on swimming along a six-mile stretch of Florida beach
Michela Stievano clears a table at The Boardwalk Cafe on June 9, 2010, in Pensacola, Florida. The cafe has experienced a slowdown in business which may be blamed on the residue washing up on Pensacola Beach from the spill.
As more oil residue floats ashore many fear that there will be a huge economic impact on local economies with some saying 200,000 people may lose their jobs.
Veterinarians clean an oil covered brown pelican found off the Louisiana coast and affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill at the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Buras, Louisiana, June 9, 2010.
Workers clean up oil patches and tar that washed up on the beach from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on June 8, 2010, in Orange Beach, Alabama.
After more pressure from Congress, BP placed a new High-definition camera near the site of the leaking oil. Although many people question whether the live cameras are adding to the problem, instead of helping efforts or public awareness.
To the left is an image from the new cameras.
Workers are seen clearing the oil residue that has washed up on Pensacola Beach from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on June 7, 2010.
BP has also stepped up clean-up efforts by hiring previously unemployed workers to tend to the affected shores.
A Coast Guard boat passes as workers put oil containment booms in the water as they try to protect the inlet waterways from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on June 7, 2010, in Pensacola, Florida.
US President Barack Obama talks to the media during a meeting with cabinet members to discuss the administration's response to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill at the White House in Washington on June 7, 2010.
Obama warned that the economic impact from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill would be "substantial" as he met top officials in the disaster-control effort. Obama also ramped up pressure on BP to streamline its claims process for Gulf Coast residents seeking compensation for lost livelihoods and promised them "constant, vigilant attention" from his administration.
A memorial built in Grand Isle, Louisiana, on June 6, 2010, by Patrick Shay and his neighbors shows the many things lost due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. At the time, BP's latest attempt to stem the flow of oil from the well head was capturing a portion of the oil flowing out, but much of it continued to flow into the Gulf of Mexico.
A brown pelican coated in heavy oil wallows in the surf June 4, 2010, on East Grand Terre Island, Louisiana. Oil from the Deepwater Horizon incident is coming ashore in large volumes across southern Louisiana coastal areas.
Charlie Green is overcome with emotion on June 6, 2010, during a public prayer vigil for the oil spill along Pensacola Beach, Florida, where oil globs have come ashore from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The vigil was put on by the Pensacola Beach Community Church.
U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen briefs reporters at the White House on June 7, 2010, in Washington, DC. Allen, the national incident commander over the federal government's response to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, warned that clean up of the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history could go on into the fall even if the flow of oil from the out-of-contril well was stemmed by the end of summer.
Members of the National Wildlife Federation look over the edge of their boat while surveying the oxidized oil off of the Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana. The oil is being broken up by chemical dispersants and is drifting throughout the Gulf of Mexico.
Some computer models suggest the currents could carry the oil along the Atlantic coast as early as this summer.
Contract workers patrol the beach to pick up oil that washed ashore on a public beach on June 2, 2010, in Dauphin Island, Alabama.
In an attempt to stop the flow of oil, BP employed an underwater saw that looked to slice a rise pipe, then cap it so that oil could be siphoned to the surface. This is the company's latest attempt to stem the flow of oil, and appears to have worked.
Multiple cameras on JPL's MISR instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft were used to create two unique views of oil moving into Louisiana's coastal wetlands.
Greg Vesely posts a warning of "oil-related chemicals" in the water at an entrance to a public beach on June 2, 2010, in Dauphin Island, Alabama. Oil believed to be from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig accident began to appear on the shores of Alabama in early June.
A contract worker patrols the beach to pick up oil that began washing ashore on a public beach on June 2, 2010, in Dauphin Island, Alabama.
Greenpeace demonstrators protest outside the staff entrance to British Petroleum (BP) headquarters in central London, on May 20, 2010.
This banner was hung outside BP's headquarters in lieu of its official flag, after activists scaled the building above the main entrance.
That day, BP said it was retrieving about 3,000 barrels of oil per day, or 60 percent of the flow, from the enormous oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico using a pipe fed to the site of the leak.
A sign warns the public away from the beach on May 23, 2010, on Grand Isle, Louisiana.
With oil covering many of the beaches in the area, officials closed them to the public indefinitely. Officials now say that it may be impossible to clean the coastal wetlands affected by the massive oil spill that continues gushing in the Gulf of Mexico.
A BP cleanup crew shovels oil from a beach on May 24, 2010, at Port Fourchon, Louisiana. BP CEO Tony Hayward, who visited the beach, said that BP is doing everything possible to clean up the massive oil spill still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.
A satellite photo shows the oil spill catching the gulf current and spreading in all directions, including towards Florida.
In the Florida Keys, reports of tarballs landing on shore have created widespread worry that the oil spill may now also threaten the fragile coast in the area.
Smoke rises from a controlled burn on May 19, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico. According to reports, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered BP to use a less toxic chemical oil dispersant to break up the oil in the Gulf.
Controlled burns can only be carried out in open areas and when wind conditions permit.
Senate Small Business Committee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-LA), shows charts of Louisiana during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on May 20, 2010, in Washington, DC.
Sen. Landrieu unveiled oil disaster relief measures for Gulf Coast businesses and communities.
Oil coats beach sand at the mouth of the Mississippi River on May 17, 2010, south of Venice, Louisiana. BP announced today that it is siphoning off 1,000 barrels of oil per day from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.
The amount of oil escaping from the well is a matter of dispute, making the success of BP's effort difficult for regulators to ascertain.
A tar ball that washed ashore in Louisiana. Objects like these have been seen on shore, spurring cleanup efforts, from Texas to Florida.
Tarballs are blobs of crude oil that have coagulated after the ocean chemistry breaks up the thin surface slicks. Tarballs are described by the NOAA as "hard and crusty on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside, not unlike a toasted marshmallow."