Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

 

 

 

The Gulf Coast is no stranger to hurricanes, and we are well-versed in helping our neighbors recover. Hurricane Harvey is proving to be an unprecedented storm that is going to take a lot of effort from many individuals and organizations to fully recover. While search and rescue efforts are ongoing and will be for several days, there are many ways you can help worthwhile organizations who are doing great work right now. We’ve assembled a list of organizations who need your help. Many first response organizations are already on the ground and need financial donations, supplies, or volunteers. There is a way for everyone to help!

We have put together a list of organizations that are helping the most vulnerable populations in the area: children, abandoned pets, the disabled, and partners focused on environmental justice. Please take a moment and support our coastal...

 

Sea pens (order Pennatulacea), with around 300 species, can be found as deep as 20,000 feet in almost all oceans.  Generally found in large fields, this order is one of few to have species in the frigid waters surrounding Antarctica. Having varying appearances, sea pens can range in color from orange to yellow to white, with some capable of emitting a bright greenish light when stimulated.

These octocorals, related to sea whips and sea fans , have a unique form - their central stalk, known as the primary polyp, is a modified polyp that has lost its tentacles and developed a water-filled bulb at its base to anchor the animal (image, left). Secondary polyps branch from the primary polyp and have specialized functions including capturing food, reproducing, and ventilating the colony by controlling water flow. This trait...

 
Flooding in the French Quarter
Deluge rain events have brought flooding to New Orleans neighborhoods twice in the last month.

 

"If a little rain can flood us, what will a hurricane do?" – Public Comment, City Council Meeting

Public confidence in New Orleans’ ability to manage stormwater has eroded in the wake of the latest Gulf Deluge. From Houston to Acadiana, from Livingston to St. Petersburg, bad governance worsens natural risks of flood water damaging residents’ property. As the past two weeks have unfolded, it has become more and more apparent that the institutions and infrastructure that are supposed to protect New Orleanians from flooding are both in need of a dramatic overhaul.

 

  • On July 22nd, there was flash flooding in Mid-City and Lakeview. Rain soaked Gentilly.

 

  • ...
 

Sea fans, sea whips and bamboo coral are all members of the order Alcyonacea, one of three orders of octocoral. There are many other types of coral in this order, but these three are common and interesting deep sea dwelling organisms. Keeping all these corals straight can be confusing because this same order was previously known as Gorgonacea, so corals in the order are commonly referred to as gorgonian corals. 
 
Alcyonacea most commonly occur as branching corals that look like plants, with a main trunk and branching stems (left (white), with an orange crinoid). Ranging from large fleshy masses to smaller feathered-pen-looking organisms, this family of corals is among the most diverse of deep sea corals and are united by having bony skeletons.
 
There are a number of sites in the Gulf that have uniquely...

 
Do not let Trump kill the Clean Water Rule

Trump's EPA is trying to remove valuable protections for our rivers, streams, and wetlands!

The Clean Water Rule provides common sense protections for streams and wetlands across the country. It protects drinking water sources for nearly 1 in 3 Americans. It protects wetlands throughout the nation that filter pollutant, absorb floodwaters, dampen storm surge and provide habitat for countless wildlife. It was a no-brainer supported by millions of Americans and backed by science. 

But that is all at risk nowTake action to protect our water.

The Trump administration wants to roll back these protections.  We can't let that happen. Make your voice heard - send a message to EPA today. Tell Administrator Scott Pruitt: Hands off our water.

Clean Water is essential to human health, vital to healthy communities, and necessary for a robust economy.  We rely on these small streams for drinking water and these wetlands...

 
Pearl River
An aerial view of the Pearl River. Photo Credit: Bonny Schumaker, On Wings of Care.

This article is excerpted from the Summer 2017 issue of Gulf Currents, GRN's bi-annual printed newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here

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GRN advocates for the Pearl River’s restoration and against further damming. The proposal to build a 1500-acre flood control lake on the Pearl River in Jackson, Mississippi has been in the study stage since 2013. In summer 2017, we expect feasibility studies and a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the “One Lake” project to be published. The project poses risks to habitats and to the health of the Pearl River downstream of Jackson. There is already a large dam on the Pearl River, impounding the Ross Barnett Reservoir, upstream from Jackson. Further channel modifications from a second lake include dredging the river deeper and wider, filling 1000 acres of floodplain wetlands, and blocking flow with a weir south of Interstate...

 

The August 5th flooding was rough on many New Orleanians - with floodwaters swamping homes, cars and businesses. Our thoughts go out to those who are still dealing with the aftermath. And more flooding could be on the way - stay safe.

This week, the City Council met to try to figure out what happened and what we do now. Several city officials have since stepped down or been fired. This is what we do now: demand accountability and innovation from our city’s current and future leaders.

This massive flood event is wake up call. The system is broken, it must be fixed. We have a system that is focused only on pumping...

 
A Victory for Clean Water in Saucier
Bobby shows the runoff flowing to Tuxachanie Creek on DeSoto N.F.

This summer, Gulf Restoration Network and our members Bobby Tubre and his grandfather, Don Williams, in Saucier reached an agreement with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on a new treatment permit for Lakeview R/V Resort. To arrive at this agreement, it took three years of negotiations and advocacy in the form of correspondence with MDEQ, many individual phone calls, one conference call, two different private water quality testing labs, site visits by MDEQ staff, water samples examined by MDEQ labs, plus two sets of comment letters from GRN, correspondence with the Mississippi Department of Health, and a report by WLOX TV Action Reporter A.J. Giardina.


Our introduction to Mr. Tubre was in the summer of 2014 when he found me through contacts on the Coast and explained what was happening next door at the Lakeview R/V Resort – a campground with a lagoon and sprayfield sewage treatment...

 

Squat Lobsters on Black Coral. Image credit: NOAA's National Ocean Service

Black corals, contrary to their name, do not appear black but instead come in a range of colors including red, orange, white and green. The name comes from their skeleton, which is indeed black. Black corals belong to the order Antipatharia, a hexacoral, and occur all over the world at a variety of depths. Black corals differ from stony corals, another order of hexacoral, by having a flexible skeletons made of protein and chitin, a fibrous substance that makes up a majority of exoskeletons of arthropods and fungi cell walls. This compound allows them to move in the current, unlike stony skeletons with their rigid frames. The compound of black coral skeleton serves another function, as a record keeper. Their skeletons grow, similar to tree rings, cataloguing changes in their environments and allowing us to see how oceans of...

 
Hilcorp Energy pipeline leak in coastal Louisiana
Hilcorp Energy pipeline leak in coastal Louisiana.

This article is excerpted from the Summer 2017 issue of Gulf Currents, GRN's bi-annual printed newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here

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At a recent national gathering of environmental and conservation activists, it became very clear that my colleagues from the East, Mid-West, and West were extremely stressed and disheartened by the efforts of Congress and the White House to neutralize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and roll back environmental laws. Comparatively, most of my colleagues from the South, although disturbed, were not too phased by what was going on. Why would there be this difference in outlook?

The answer lies, I believe, in the fact that Southern states, under the leadership of either party, are already loath to regulate business or industry, particularly if there is a promise of jobs....

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