A massive rust-coloured oil slick is now just 14 kilometres off the coast of the southern USA.
BP says it will be at least another week before they are able to siphon the oil off from a blown-out well a mile under the Gulf of Mexico
There are signs that the natural habitat may already be affected. This is one of 20 turtles washed up on the beach in Mississippi.
The governor of Louisana says the spill is threatening the way of life in his state. Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have also declared a state of emergency.
Visiting the scene, President Barack Obama described it as an “unprecedented environmental disaster and said BP was responsible.
Even if the well is shut off in a week, fishermen and wildlife experts are wondering how long it will take for the Gulf to recover.
Booms have been laid in an effort to contain the spill – but these have so far failed.
Its estimated tens of millions of barrels of oil could leak from the seabed reserve.
For those on shore, there is nothing to do but wait and hope.