Birds in the Bull’s Eye: Return to East Bay

As many of you know, GRN has made frequent visits to areas south of Venice, Louisiana including (but by no means limited to) Trappers Cut, Delta National Wildlife Refuge, marshland bordering South Pass, and East Bay. If you’ve read our blogs and seen some of our photos, you know that we have been monitoring the BP response (or lack thereof) in these areas and capturing the beauty of the birds and wildlife that make our coastal wetlands home or vacation spots (migratory birds). You also know that we have been very concerned and disappointed that so many of the species in these areas are in the bull’s eye and that not much is or can be done to protect them.Well, unfortunately it seems like not much has been done and we aren’t sure whether the BP powers that be even have the ability, organization, or the wherewithal to really mitigate against the oil impacts that are dooming our coast and communities, much less save the lives of countless animals. Based on my most recent visit on May 20th, it appears that much of the work being done by BP is too little, too late.Yesterday, Captain Keith Kennedy, Jordan Macha of Sierra Club, Dr. Darron Collins of the World Wildlife Fund, GRN photographer Jeffrey Dubinsky, and myself embarked on another excursion out of Cypress Cove Marina. It is very important for GRN to continue with frequent trips via boat or plane into the impacted area because the need for independent analysis and monitoring is critical. I usually ask the captain to veer off into areas that are seemingly un-impacted first before we make it down to the impacted areas, especially when there are folks coming along with me who have never experienced the splendor of south Louisiana’s wetlands first-hand. It is important for activists, scientists, media or anyone else who can tell the story about what is going on to witness the before and after, if you will, of nature’s paradise versus man-made catastrophe. Such was the case on yesterday’s trip.Some of you may recall a recent posting about the CBS News team that was threatened with arrest in South Pass under “BP’s rules” . It just so happens that this incident occurred near East Bay, a place that I have become very fond of and that Captain Kennedy has made his living off of for over 20 years. East Bay is surrounded by barrier islands on one side and coastal beaches and marshland on the other. The Bay is teeming with fish and home to brown pelicans, laughing sea-gulls and many other migratory birds and wildlife. Of course, just off the shore of the barrier islands are humongous oil platforms. Well, there was no way that myself nor the captain would sit back and allow BP to call the shots over who was permitted in East Bay without challenging them, so we went. While I am pleased to report that we were not stopped or arrested by the Coast Guard acting under “BP’s rules” , I am not pleased by what we found that morning. Words alone cannot describe how horrific this disaster has become. Neither can photos nor videos but they are the next best thing especially when you have a great photographer like Jeffery on board.East Bay is now full of oil and dispersant, full of people in white hazmat suits, and now full of emptiness. Where were the thousands of birds we had witnessed just days before? Where were the fish jumping in and out of the water? Why were at least 50 people in white suits standing around scrubbing the nesting area where we had just recently been dazzled by dozens of brown pelicans? Could it be that our deepest fears are coming to surface like the black sludge 25 miles away?Jonathan Henderson is the Coastal Resiliency Organizer for GRN

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