ON THE GROUND WITH NEW ORLEANS PHOTOGRAPHER JERRY MORAN:
On Feb. 23, I made a return trip to Ocean Springs, Miss., to see how things looked 10 months after the spill. All images were taken in the area of Latitude 30,21.8599N; Longitude 88,46.123W.
I have photographed this beach on at least five occasions since August 2010. And I’m disappointed to see and report that very little has changed: oil and chemical residue still coat the beach, and erosion has taken a heavy toll on large parts of the shoreline where mangroves and marsh grass once flourished.
As you can see, these photos look like they could have been taken 4 or 5 months ago, not just last week as official cleanup operations are shutting down.
As I walked the beach, I came across what appeared to be hundreds and thousands of dead tube worms.
I consulted with a colleague and specialist from the University of Southern Mississippi, and this was the explanation given: “You may being seeing the ends of the tubes which are often cut off by the worms when the ends of the tubes become too long due to the erosion of the sediments around them. For maximum feeding ability, the tube opening normally extends an inch or two above the sediment.”
This occurrence is unusual and illustrates the impact of the erosion of protective seashore flora and the destruction of ecosystems caused by the oil and toxic dispersant from the BP spill and aftermath. The beach has simply vanished into the Gulf in many areas as dead pelicans, fish, turtles, and jelly fish continue to litter the beach 10 long months after the spill.
This week, amid reports of dozens of dead adult and baby dolphins washing ashore in Alabama and Mississippi, it’s not difficult to see in Ocean Springs just how far we have to go before putting this disaster behind us.
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