PSDS: Lousiana Coast

PSDS research staff headed to the Louisiana coast a few days ahead of President Obama’s visit to Grand Isle. Adam Griffith was on the coast of Louisiana for two and a half days and met birders, news crews, and volunteers from various non-profit organizations.

PSDS Research Scientist Adam Griffith visited Grand Isle, LA from May 26-28. On the morning of the 26th, I arrived to the Emergency Operations Center in Jefferson Parish at 10:30 and obtained a media pass to access closed public beaches including Elmer’s Isle. Elmer’s Isle was heavily polluted with oil in the water and on the beach about the 21st of May. National Guard troops attempted to fill an inlet on the island and eventually succeeded on May 24th. Other than a large stockpile of sand being delivered by 18-wheelers from another location, little clean-up was occurring.

From Elmer’s Isle, we headed to Grand Isle State Park to walk out on the fishing pier. I was joined by graduate students from Tulane University in the Public Health and International Development Programs who were volunteering for the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. They are attempting to map the oil spill from the air using balloons and kites and are working with grassrootsmapping.org to accomplish this. An interactive map conceived by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade allows users to report oil spill related incidents such as dead wildlife, oil on beaches, and oil on the water. View this map here.

In Grand Isle State Park, National Guard troops were deploying water berms, different from booms, from shore. Here we saw an oil sheen on the beach, but no thick gooey oil.

We concluded the day at the local marina where we met with Drew Wheelan of the American Birding Association and Richard Shephard who told us of terrible conditions on Isle Grand Terre including dead sea turtles and oil tide in the ocean. Tomorrow, I hope to check out this island with Jeff, a local boat captain.

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