What were you doing five years ago today?
Like most of us, you probably were watching response boats pouring water over the burning wreck that was the BP-Deepwater Horizon platform, a tragedy that already had claimed lives of 11 workers on that rig.
Like most of us, you heard those workers had families in our communities, and you said a prayer for them.
Like most of us, you were hoping the crude oil gushing from that well was a little as BP’s experts said it was, all the while something was telling you it was more than those reports.
After seeing the extent of the BP-Deepwater Horizon damage, you were hoping we wouldn’t have a repeat of what happened in Prince William Sound with the Exxon Valdez and the millions of gallons of crude that washed up on Alaskan shores.
As it turned out, it was much worse, if only because hundreds of millions of gallons of crude flowed from that deep-water drilling site for three months before the well was capped.
Today, BP tells us that all is well. Look at the TV spots. Isn’t that what BP is spouting in those advertisements?
Well, it’s not OK. All is not well, not on Louisiana’s coastline nor in the marshes.
Hell’s fire, and with apologies to the tea growers of the world, you couldn’t pour as much brewed tea into the Gulf of Mexico as there was crude oil from the BP-Deepwater Horizon disaster and there not be some ecological damage.
We still do not know the full extent of this massive disaster: The studies by teams of university, federal and state agencies and private groups have not been released. Sure there are some numbers, but there no complete qualitative nor quantitative report for the Natural Resources Damage Assessment.
We don’t need studies, however extensive they might be, to tell us that something is wrong.
Talk to the folks who have caught and sold cocahoe minnows for years. It’s a small fish we use for live bait, mostly in the fall and winter, and a fish that spends its entire life cycle in the marshes. To a man and woman, they tell you the numbers of cocahoes have declined dramatically.
And isn’t that where all the damage begins? It’s reasonable to assume that when you begin breaking down the food chain at its lower stages that it will affect all species in the upper ranges.
Then talk to the folks who make a living pursuing inshore species, fish like speckled trout and redfish. True, we had spectacular trout and redfish catches in 2012 and 2013. That was the result of much fewer fishermen going out in 2010 and 2011 to catch these fish, and much fewer shrimpers out there to take shrimp these fish eat.
But did you see small trout during those year? Didn’t think so, and it’s only in the last months that we began seeing small trout from spawn in late 2013. We miss the trout from those three years, and wonder what else happened during that time.