04/20/2012 09:08 am ET

Gulf Oil Spill Anniversary: Photos Of The Deepwater Horizon Explosion 2 Years Later

Two years have passed since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, yet the effects are still being felt. Tar balls are turning up on beaches. Sick dolphins are washing up, possibly connected to the spill. And the once-beautiful Gulf of Mexico deep-sea coral is now brown and dead.

But even with these residual effects, the Gulf is recovering overall. According to The Times-Picayune , Louisiana has experienced a surprisingly quick economic recovery. This past February, the preliminary unemployment rate was 7%, similar to the pre-spill rate.

On the surface, the region looks like it is almost back to normal. The beaches are sandy, the water is clear and the economy is up. However, consequences of the spill are still all around us: the ongoing legal battle with BP and the oil remnants in the water are only two examples of the literal and figurative price we are still paying.

With 11 human lives lost on the Deepwater Horizon, thousands of animals displaced and killed in the following weeks, and countless people who will be affected for years to come, here’s a look back at the iconic images from one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history.