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2014 March 14
Coastal Wetlands of Louisiana

Today we were privileged to host friends from Oceana who have been monitoring the health of the Gulf here off the coast of Louisiana regularly since the BP disaster of 2010. They wanted to talk with people here -- fishermen, local citizens, people who worked the VOO boats, biologists, and more. And they wanted to see some things for themselves.  They took boats and were briefed extensively on the status of fisheries, wetlands and marsh restoration, and community health issues that remain a concern. And they also wanted to get "a look from above" to help put the big picture into better perspective.  Weather wasn't entirely cooperative while they were here, but we found a couple of hours with decent visibility and fairly calm seas, when we could squeeze into their busy schedules. They pitched in to help with our fuel costs, and off we went. Here is a map showing our flight route:


 We didn't have to leave the coastline for them to see their first ugly sheen associated with a near-shore platform. (We really were trying to show them the beautiful wetlands and birds, first -- but fate had a different plan!)
The grasses were still winter brown , and we did of course some gorgeous views of these vanishing wetlands. But it was also very apparent to our guests how fragile these wetlands are, and significant the land loss is beginning just beyond the levees of New Orleans.  I felt sadly uncomfortable as they snapped photo after photo of the ubiquitous gas and oil structures along the river and riddled endlessly throughout the marshes.  We had to strain so hard to find beautiful views of healthy wetlands, views which not so many years ago must have been effortless.

A gallery of some of the photos from today's flight is appended below, starting with the coastal and wetlands areas and finishing with some views of the city of New Orleans.  

Please also enjoy the excellent documentary video that Oceana put together from this latest visit of theirs to the Gulf titled "Drill, Spill, Repeat?  Breaking Offshore Oil Drilling's Destructive Cycle."  You can view it here.