The recent catastrophic explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico has put Florida, Mississippi, and our home state of Alabama on high alert. And even though we are an international adventure travel company, we are first and foremost Alabamians. Many of us vacation several times a year on the Gulf Coast and have friends and family living there who depend on the Gulf Coast's perennial draw as a destination. However, not to overstate the obvious, but the toll goes well beyond the loss of lives, resources and billions of dollars spent on cleanup — hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife living on the Gulf Coast will be threatened as the oil reaches shore.

The oil slick from the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico has reached the mouth of the Mississippi River and is moving toward delicate ecosystems for birds and marine life. Although barriers were set in place to prevent oil from reaching grasslands and sandy beaches, five-foot swells are pushing oily water over the booms. With 200,000 gallons of oil leaking out of the underwater well each day, the spill is five times larger than first estimated, according to the New York Times.

The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began washing ashore this morning along the Louisiana coast, reaching the mouth of the Mississippi River delta.

It's still way too early to tell what the long-terms risks to wildlife from this catastrophe will be, but the wildlife and environmental effects of the Exxon-Valdez oil spill are still evident in the Prince William Sound ecosystem today! In fact, when we posted a link to the New York Times piece on the IE Facebook page, one of our friends remarked, "I traveled to Valdez with IE several years ago and yes—you could find traces of oil if you dug in the sand."

And in case you forgot (don't feel bad because we did too)—the Exxon-Valdex happened in 1989.

Visit the site to see all the wildlife at risk.