You’ll know about the oil in the Gulf of Mexico. What some may not realize is what a disaster this is for our precious wildlife.
Ralph Portier, a professor of environmental sciences at Louisiana State University, said “The question is what that long time frame will do to those plant species and what that will mean for habitat for seafood and migratory birds,” he said. “Picture if the [Florida] Everglades were being oiled, what a national tragedy that would be. And this area is even more fragile and productive.”
The Gulf Coast is home to vast numbers of birds, animals and fish that need to be protected, said Tom MacKenzie of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Endangered sea turtles are due to come in to shore soon and lay eggs in the coastal sand.
“A whole generation could be affected,” MacKenzie said.
Floating booms to block oil from coming in cannot protect the entire coast, he said, so crews are prioritizing sensitive wildlife areas, including nesting grounds for pelicans and butterfly migration areas.
“This has the potential to be truly devastating,” he said.
The damage to the crawfish, shrimp and oyster populations — and the economy that relies on them — could be severe, Portier said. Scientists can help rebuild the aquatic species, but many businesses could be ruined by then, he said.
“This whole economic fabric could be ripped, and that in turn will affect the cultural fabric” of the Delta region, he said. Still, Portier remains optimistic.
“All of us Cajuns are tragically hopeful,” he said. “My ancestors — if you can survive
yellow fever and all the other things that happened growing up in the swamps and bayous of southern Louisiana, you’d better have a smile on your face, because that’s about all you have some days.”
Addition: The first comment reminds us that we can try to take some action! Thanks, Roger. If anyone else has any information about donating or volunteering, please let us know.