This morning I travelled once again down to Venice, Louisiana and met Captain Keith Kennedy of ‘Born to Fish Charters’. With me were GRN member and activist, Jo Billups, Carl Safina, President of the Blue Ocean Institute, and GRN photographer Jeffrey Dubinsky. We embarked from Cypress Cove Marina at about 9am and set out to continue with our monitoring and reporting on the impacts to the Delta National Wildlife Refuge and some other areas in and around the Delta. This time things were, unfortunately, very different. Today, we found what we had hoped that we would never find: oil.
The first part of our journey was very peaceful with calm seas and breathtaking scenery. We photographed alligators; birds, such as Brown Pelicans, Red-winged Orioles, sea-gulls, and frigates; lots of wild flowers and; marsh. For the first couple of hours there were no signs of trouble. Unless, that is, you consider that there were still no booms in this area to protect the wildlife and habitat despite there being millions of gallons of oil rapidly heading in that direction.
At around Noon we journeyed further south through South Pass to where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico. It’s there that we found trouble, and lots of it. We were retracing our path from last Tuesday and came across some of the same birds that we had come accross at the edge of South Pass at East Bay along the beaches there. This time, we found oil. It wasn’t the light sheen that we had witnessed coming inland on prior excursions. Today, it was thick brown clumps of oil flowing in steadily with the tide. Seagulls were carrying about their usual business of diving into the water to catch fish. Brown Pelicans were fluttering about to and from their nesting grounds. Fish were jumping in and out of the water.We did see more booms in place today around some of the nesting areas on the coast line. Unfortunately, we also saw waves lapping over the booms and oil smeared all over the orange and white “protective” layers. One thing is very clear: oil and birds do not mix. What we witnessed today were birds in the crosshair of BP’s drilling disaster. What a mess.
Jonathan Henderson is GRN’s Coastal Resiliency Organizer