The road from New Orleans to the southernmost tip of Louisiana is unremarkable until you peer into the depths of the recent past. This snakebitten country still bears indelible scars from a Hurricane called Katrina. Ground Zero for the world’s worst ecological disaster was also Ground Zero for Katrina. Hurricane-pushed salt water killed thousands of trees, many of which remain standing along U.S. 23. Click here for a video of Gerry’s Interview with charter boat captain Ryan Lambert >>
By the time you hit Port Sulpher, just 45 or so minutes from Venice, one gets the distinct impression that something is amiss. Boats sit idle atop trailers in driveway after driveway, many of which have “For Sale” signs on them.
The normally quiet highway is suddenly filled with southbound trucks headed for the Venice staging area that BP has set up in an effort to address the spill.
In Buras, we met with J. Michael Checkett from Ducks Unlimited to discuss the potential impact the BP disaster could have on waterfowl as they head south down the flyway in a few months. D.U. is scheduled to meet with Louisiana Fish and Wildlife officials in the next few days to try and formalize a gameplan for a potential disaster.
Ryan Lambert, Cajun Fishing Adventures: “I’ve always said that I’d fish come hell or high water. Well, Katrina was my high water and this is my hell.”
Although some of Lambert’s fishing territory remains open for fishing, he has no customers. Most have cancelled and no one is booking trips for fear that his remaining fishable water will be closed soon.
The boat barn at Cajun Fishing Adventures lodge in Buras sits idle in the early afternoon. Lambert says that he has already lost close to $500,000 since the Horizon disaster began.
In Venice, the offshore fleet at Cypress Cove Marina sits idle, too–during their busiest time of year. In an aft rod holder of Mike Ellis’ Relentless is a gauge for measuring sea turtles. Many skippers are now helping fish and game biologists with research into the oil spill’s impact on Gulf wildlife.
When was the last time you saw a kiddie pool on the deck of an offshore fishing boat? Biologists use the pools in their turtle research.
Oil booms line the decks of both work boats and docks throughout Cypress Cove Marina.
Oil mop up boats and crews await orders.
Instead of successful anglers cheerily snapping digital photos of themselves with their catch of tuna, docks are lined with film and news crews documenting the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
These boats–charter boats, work boats and shrimpers–have been designated as vessels of opportunity and are poised to work on mopping up the spill once it hits the marshes.
Dozens of boats await orders as oil continues shoreward.
Oil booms headed to the marsh.
Docked for now, these shrimp boats will be back on the water at daybreak to help corral the Horizon spill.
Television satellite trucks take up the majority of the parking spaces at Venice Marina as news crews prepare for broadcasts.
Houseboats at the marina have largely been rented by BP and other oil spill cleanup work crews.
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries personnel boats at Venice Marina.
Clean-up crew applicants, transported to Venice from New Orleans, line-up outside the BP compound.
Hopeful workers onboard a BP chartered bus on their way back to New Orleans to await word on their applications.