Grand Isle, LA
GRAND ISLE, LA. — In the Louisiana marsh, oil-coated pelicans flap their wings in a futile attempt to dry them. A shorebird repeatedly dunks its face in a puddle, unable to wash off. Lines of dead jellyfish float in the gulf, traces of oil visible in their clear “bells.”
These scenes, scientists say, are confirmation of what they had feared for a month. Now that oil from the Gulf of Mexico’s vast spill has come ashore — in some places, as thick as soft fudge — it is causing serious damage in one of the country’s great natural nurseries.
In nature, oil is a versatile killer. It smothers the tiny animals that make up a coral reef. It suffocates blades of marsh grass, cutting them off from air and sunlight. It clumps up a bird’s feathers, leaving it unable to fly. Then, trying to remove the oil, birds swallow it.
For now, scientists are seeing the worst effects only in one corner of the Louisiana coast.
But they’re concerned about what they’re not seeing — and worried that the impact on animals and plants will only get worse.
While many of you have written treasured comments over the years telling me that you visit this site for beauty and inspiration in a much needed escape from what Proust termed the “banalities of the quotidian,” my own conscience right now is consumed with a profound sadness over what we face as a planet. (If Only We Might Build an Ark)
In lieu of volunteering to go to the Gulf Coast, which I’m unable to do right now, this forum provides the one place where I might do something — if only to create a larger awareness toward this incalculable tragedy. Please permit me a bit of patience for this intrusion of well-intentioned reality.
A dragonfly, specked in oil in the marsh grass of Garden Island Bay, LA.
This oil-soaked creature washed ashore in Grand Isle, Louisiana.
A crude-covered bird struggles in the water against a massive supply vessel at the site of the exploded oil rig.
A few of the millions of gallons of oil covering the Gulf of Mexico, taken on May 5.