The near- and long-term ecological effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are only just beginning to be assessed. This NSF-funded project applies a relatively simple size-based indicator of community structure using modern death assemblages to establish an ecological baseline of oyster reef structure. This approach has the advantage of providing a census of oyster reef communities in areas where conventional live-collected samples resulting from long-term monitoring efforts are sparse or unavailable. Such baseline information will allow us to move beyond the recognition of the immediate ecological changes resulting from the oil spill, by providing a unique perspective on the body size structure of pre-impact oyster reefs. This information will provide much needed context for setting restoration goals.