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2014 March 19 Wednesday
Island and coastal tour of eastern Louisiana

The interlude between end of the  work day and sunset and some clear skies gave us just enough time for a quick tour of the Chandeleur Islands and the eastern coastal areas of Louisiana.  Our special guests today were people whose life work involves aerial monitoring of ecological systems throughout North America and living close to the land in rural Wisconsin. The wetlands and coastal islands of Louisiana were a new and fascinating study for them, and they were even so fortunate as to see a small pod of adult and juvenile dolphins frolicking near the Chandeleurs.  Here is a map showing our clockwise tour.

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The Chandeleur islands are always a thrill to see, although each flyover also reveals their continuing diminution in size, a poignant reminder of their fragility and vulnerability to erosion and storms. It is sobering to think that one day we may see only sandbars where we now still can find long stretches of beach with beautiful plant life and inland ponds.  To the south of the Chandeleurs, Breton Island stands as a clear reminder of how much land has been lost, the site of what once was a busy research facility now a circle barely visible as it fades into the shallows.  The shallow waters outside these islands teem with dolphin, sharks, cobia, mullet, and large bait balls, and the beaches are filled with birds.

 

The wetlands that grace the area between open water and populated areas of Louisiana are as uniquely beautiful as these islands, and unfortunately also as fragile. Here are a few special views of them, both on our way offshore and on our return to the city of New Orleans.  More photos of the islands and these coastal areas are in the galleries below.

We should mention that we also saw areas of surface oil sheen suggestive of pipeline leaks, which you’ll see in the gallery photos below and which we reported to the USCG. This time the worst of them were in Breton Sound, as you'll see in the gallery photos below.. There is virtually never a flight over coastal areas with oil or gas platforms that does not include such pollution sightings. But to quote a beautiful song “The Island”  by Paul Brady:  “But hey don’t listen to me, this wasn’t mean to be a sad song. We’ve heard too much of that before…”

As promised, here are additional photos of the Chandeleurs and BretonSound, of the wetlands along the eastern coast of Louisiana, and our return to New Orleans.  Many thanks to our guest and friend Steve Apfelbaum from Wisconsin for sharing his photos with us and especially for giving us good excuse to make this wonderful aerial tour again!