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“I am the Manager of the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.  The reserve comprises some 18,000 acres of estuary and other coastal habitat, right on the Gulf, obviously under great risk should the oil make it to our shoreline.  Massive effort has developed plans to help deter the oil from reaching shore, using burning, dragging, and extensive booming.  The entire perimeter of the Grand Bay NERR is boomed, as are several interior inlets.  Though, I hope we do not have to count on the fifteen miles of booms.

Over the past several weeks my staff has been busy documenting the current conditions of the reserve, sampling fishes, seagrasses, emergent marshes, water quality, sediments, fish tissue, birds, invertebrates, diamondback terrapins and extensively photographing the shoreline and marshes.  I work for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and have spent several days working at the Mobile, AL Unified Command Center helping make plans  for protection of the shoreline and for cleanup as needed.  So far most of mainland Mississippi has been spared, though debris and many tar-balls are washing ashore on our barrier islands which are part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Like with many issues, the media is playing a major role in driving our thinking on this.  They want numbers and dramatic pictures.  After this weekend’s [top kill] failure, the mood of the coast is gloomy.  Residents, businesses and local governments are downright angry and mostly helpless.  So much of the economy of the entire Gulf region depends upon the water and between oil and dispersant, how long will it be fouled?  There are just so few answers to this whole mess.

The biggest shame is that this drilling technology that allows us to drill at these depths apparently has outpaced our abilities to address catastrophic failures in the system at these depths.  The people involved in planning have been hopeful that something would work to stop the gusher, but now if we can only count of the relief wells in August to maybe stop this, how can we stop it from fouling the entire Gulf.  And what will tropical weather add to the formula?

The beaches can be cleaned with relative ease, though oil could continue washing ashore for months.  However, the marshes are a different matter:   cleanup of vegetated, muddy areas will be next to impossible to clean.  The toxicity of the oil should be somewhat less as it weathers for weeks before getting here, but we really do not know what that means for the plants and animals.  We are about 130 miles due north of the Deepwater Horizon well site.  (As of June 1) no oil has been within 30 miles of the MS coast.

[This is a family affair:  My wife] works in Pascagoula, MS at the National Seafood Inspection Laboratory for NOAA, determining what seafood is safe for consumption and what federal areas of the Gulf should be open or closed to harvest.”

Dave Ruple, the writer of the piece above, is a high school friend who moved to coastal Missisippi after college.  Bienville Animal Medical Center is located in Ocean Springs, MS.

The sign below hangs near the St. Claude Avenue Bridge at the mouth of the Industrial Canal in New Orleans and has nothing to do with the oil spill.

The Bridge has an integrated lock structure.  My niece living in New Orleans (100 + miles from the Gulf)  has sent me these two pics.  Thanks, Carly.

Here is a set oil-spill related links:

General EPA facts about the Gulf of Mexico (GOM)

See a GOM leakometer.

Thoughts from Scientific American on duration/effects of the oil spill.

Oil Spill Crisis Map

NYTimes slideshow of president of Plaquemines Parish

Official site of Deepwater Horizon Response

What has been the evolution of BP the company?

What if this spill had happened in Nigeria?

How many sperm whales live in the GOM?

A self-described “non-green” person’s reaction to the ongoing gusher.

Safe to say . . . this is one lardaceous mess that’s only growing.

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