Saturday, July 31, 2010
This second shot is a portrait of local fisherman Brian Zito who, despite his best efforts (and the efforts of the community around him), has somehow been left off the list of fishing vessels available for helping with the oil cleanup. Because of the oil spill, Brian can't fish for a living... and now he can't even help clean the places he calls home.
I've been looking for some good to come out of this -- maybe communities pulling together, millions of dollars being raised to help clean up the mess... but I'm afraid there is little good to be found. People are trying, they are pushing, they are calling out to their leaders for help, but help is slow in coming... if it comes at all.
Elmers Island, Louisiana --
What follows is a series of three images... so you can feel the same sense of disbelief that I felt when I came upon this scene. It's so subtle that I was dumbfounded. I've been at the site of the oil spill, I've seen the slicks, but I was still dumbfounded. The first image is a wide shot of the beautiful beach, lush with sand, framed by a gentle surf and strewn with tiny shells and pebbles.
The second image is a closer view of those pebbles, so round and perfect. Just like any beach might have.
This third image is a closeup of the pebbles. But, wait. Those aren't pebbles. I picked one up. It broke apart in my hand like a warm m&m. Those little "pebbles" are tar balls. Yes, tar balls. Little semi-solid nuggets of oil washing up on our beaches by the millions. They wash up every single day. The workers are dutifully cleaning the beaches, yet these little pellets of petroleum keep sweeping ashore like some bizarre kind of D-Day invasion.
Is this the kind of sand we want squishing between our toes?
Monday, July 26, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
For a list of helpful charities, visit:
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
For a list of helpful charities, visit:
Yesterday I got my first glimpse into the wildlife recovery effort here in Louisiana -- set up at Fort Jackson just off Highway 23. This is just one of the many stations around the Gulf Coast that takes in rescued birds (Pelicans, terns, spoonbills, gulls, etc.), cleans the oil from their delicate feathers, provides a brief rehabilitation and then releases them into protected (and clean) wetlands.
They routinely give the media access to see the operation, and I was lucky enough to be included in the latest group. And on my way in, I met Jean-Michel Cousteau and his crew from Ocean Futures Society. Talk about timing!
The folks at this station were very friendly... and not just "PR-friendly." They were genuine people like you and me, from all over the country (Tennessee, Louisiana, Wisconsin...), here to help protect this fragile ecosystem we call The Gulf.
My timing was a little off, though, as most of the rescued and cleaned birds had recently been shipped out. But I did get a feel for the cleanup effort and got to meet some very interesting (and proud) pelicans waiting to go back home.
Unfortunately, for these birds, home doesn't exist anymore. But, Mother Nature has built quite a bit of resilience into her creatures and new wetlands are being created and set aside specifically for their recovery, so I'm certain these birds will thrive wherever they go.
For statistical details and more information about the rescue efforts, please visit http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/doctype/2931/55963
If you would like to help The Vanishing America Project's efforts in the Gulf, please visit www.donatevanam.blogspot.com
Sunday, July 11, 2010
The sign says it’s the Southernmost Point in Louisiana, and that’s no joke. In fact, the only way to get farther south is by boat.
We may look at the emptiness out here with no fast food restaurants, no Walmart, no condos... and never give it a second thought, but the Mississippi River Delta is a true American paradise. The locals even call this area “God’s Country”... and rightfully so. There is such an abundance of life here in these marshes that the air swarms with waterfowl and the waters teem with crab, fish, alligators and (this time of the year) locusts.
As I take the Land Rover out for a drive, the birds are reluctant to get out of the way, lest I interrupt their dinner. As a matter of fact, I saw one bird desperately trying to haul away a crab half it’s own size before dropping it back in the water to meet its fate under my tire. They are so used to humans and vehicles around here that they literally won’t move unless they absolutely have to. And their behavior is understandable. After all, we’re trespassing on their feeding grounds. The natural rhythm of the tide through these marshes brings an onrush of water across the grasses and the roads providing a shallow smorgasbord of aquatic life easily visible to the multitude of wading birds.
Oil, oil everywhere...
But it looks as though this winged paradise is about to meet its fate. With the help of chemical dispersants, the oil gushing from the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico is rapidly making its way to these pristine shores. And, once it hits, no form of life will survive. Every link in the food chain will be affected, from the smallest form of algae to the largest alligator and everything in between. That’s how it works -- one thing eats another, then something bigger eats that, and on up it goes, multiplying its deadly effect the entire way.
Some progress is being made in the effort to contain the spill, but it’s not enough. The reasons are many, and I won’t get into them here, but suffice it to say that it looks like “God’s Country” doesn’t stand a chance. Many of the locals are leaving -- locals who fought their way back here to rebuild after losing everything to Hurricane Katrina -- because they know all too well the lasting damage that this oil spill will cause. There will be no recovering from it in our lifetimes.
I wanted to try to make my trip to the Gulf a positive one -- I was hoping to show how America is pulling together to fight this disaster and protect our shores from one of the largest man-made catastrophes in history. I wanted to show that. But I can't. It's unfortunate, but I haven't seen much progress being made to stem this black tide. Maybe in the upcoming weeks that will change. I hope with all my heart that it will. And I will show it to you when I find it. But, until then, know that just because these stories have fallen off the front pages of the news, it doesn't mean that this disaster is over.
No... far from it. Even if the leak is capped today, it will take many generations before the Gulf, and all the life within it will be able to recover. If it ever does.
So, take a good look at the most beautiful and varied coastline North America has to offer. Once the oil reaches these shores, you can kiss this bayou paradise goodbye.
If you would like to help bring these stories from the Gulf to the American public, please visit www.donatevanam.blogspot.com and make a donation today. Be part of the solution.
When regular topical ointments wouldn't relieve the itching, I took a closer look at the bites. Turns out they aren't your garden variety mosquito or no-see-um. I don't know what it was, but I do know that it is bad. As you can see from the photo, the little red lines radiating from the swollen red bite mark on my sole indicate that whatever is in there is spreading through my bloodstream. Not good.
So, I'm on antibiotics and taking it easy until the infection goes away -- which it already seems to be doing. (Don't worry, I feel fine.)
And, while I'm laid-up, I will be editing my interview with Kindra Arnesen -- local activist and rising star in the fight to protect Louisiana's precious coastal wetlands.
And, if you haven't already, you can help me bring you images and stories from the gulf by donating to the project at www.donatevanam.blogspot.com.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
What I saw was absolutely beautiful. It's Nature Primeval. Life exploding in abundance... water, sunlight, trees, grasses, birds, alligators, fish jumping, crabs, frogs... it's all there creating a primordial paradise that, to me, stands up to any tropical island for its rarity and its beauty.
Take a good look at it folks. Once that oil reaches these shores, you can kiss this bayou paradise goodbye...
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Just click on this link to find out how you can make a difference:
We all know it's bad out there, but it's a lot worse than the mainstream media is letting on. And, for as little as $5, YOU can help bring the truth out of the Gulf and play an active role in saving our country's precious coastal wetlands and beautiful gulf waters.
Don't just sit back and complain. Become part of the solution!
Saturday, July 03, 2010
The video says it all...
To help support the Vanishing America Project, please visit: