Friday, December 23, 2011

Cat Island - the heartbreak continues

I have been lucky in friending Plaquemines Parish P.J. Hahn, Director of Coastal Zone Management on facebook and following his photography. I did so during the oilspill of 2010, knowing he would provide local, honest first-person reporting of an incident that was censored by BP, the Coast Guard and our government.

I can't watch the repeats of the footage from the BP Oilspill. The carnage just makes me ill in the same way the the replay of the explosion of Challenger in 1986. But I will never forget those dark periods in our history.

I remember that I had jury duty during one of the first weeks of the spill and I absent-mindedly chose the book Bayou Farewell, published in 2004 and authored by Mike Tidwell . This book basically predicted a Katrina experience. Of course a lot of books and articles were floating around during the early 21st century regarding the perfect storm that would be called Katrina. In the book Tidwell visited and worked with the heart and soul of southern Louisiana: the fisherpeople. The one thing that was repeated over and over by these hard working folks was the loss of our coastal wetlands and the speed in which it is happening.

The BP poisoning of the Gulf Coast is still having its effects from Louisiana to Florida, 20 months later. Just this week P.J. Hahn took a boat ride out to Cat Island in Barataria Bay to assess its health. It turned out to be extremely disappointing, as evidenced by P.J.'s pictures below:

photo by PJ Hahn

photo by PJ Hahn
The wildlife on the way to Cat Island looks healthy.

photo by PJ Hahn
in Barataria Bay outside of Bay Jimmy

photo by PJ Hahn
Something about seeing pelicans in flight makes me smile.

However, once they reached the island itself I'm sure their hearts dropped. Check out these pictures:

photo by PJ Hahn

photo by PJ Hahn

The pelicans and other birds depend on mangroves to lay their eggs.

photo by PJ Hahn

Not a lot of eggs can be laid here.
photo by PJ Hahn

photo by PJ Hahn

photo taken by PJ Hahn

According to PJ 'they were mangrove trees that are critical for the pelicans to nest. The oil spill hit this island particularly hard and I’ve been trying to document the loss so we can try and rebuild the island. Before the oil spill, this island supported hundreds of thousands of various birds. This spring it will probably not be able to support a couple hundred nesting birds."

photo by PJ Hahn
These photos were all taken on December 22, 2011.

photo by PJ Hahn

photo by PJ Hahn

Again, quoting PJ ". It's been so tough, on so many fronts. Going out and seeing the effects on the fish and wildlife......listening to fears from the locals and their concern for their future, it's been a stressful several years!"

When I asked whether BP was setting aside money for the island's restoration here is the answer:
"BP is trying to get out of all of this. They are sponsoring commercials that basically is trying to scam the public into thinking the Gulf is now fixed and that there is nothing wrong with the seafood..........and unfortunately, it seems to be working."

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