Posts Tagged ‘Grand Isle’

For The Birds

Saturday, August 21 on Grand Isle, LA, we went out on an offshore charter to get the perspective of the local fishermen who depend on these waters for their survival.  While we were offshore, our Captain, Kenny Heikamp told us his first-hand experiences and heart breaking stories of the birds that were the caught up in the oil from the BP spill.

Most of the conversations we had while on Grand Isle focused on the fish, but Kenny reminded us just how much of an impact this tragedy had on the birds that depend on the area for sanctuary.   Check out this short clip from our conversation with Kenny:

These are photos that Kenny took with his phone on his boat during the peak of the oil spill’s impacts off Grand Isle.  He has been up close and personal with these impacts in a way that few others have.

Oiled Bird off Grand Isle, LA

Oiled Bird off Grand Isle, LA

The birds of this coastal region are every bit a part of the spirit of the communities as the people and the fish.  During our short time on the water, we saw some remarkable aerial displays by birds in the area.  Something about their presence makes the experience of being out on the water more soothing.  It’s hard to imagine how difficult it must have been for these birds and the brave individuals charged with saving them from this disaster.  Kenny’s testimony underscores this tragic consequence of the spill.

Thank you, Kenny for sharing this side of the story with us.

Photos courtesy of Kenny Heikamp, 2010

01

09 2010

“It’s Our Life”

Saturday evening, we went down to the bridge on Grand Isle to speak with some locals and get their perspectives on the oil spill its affect on the water.  It didn’t take long to get them talking; there is a lot of passion and enthusiasm in this community.  One of the guys we spoke with told us that despite tar balls washing up on the beach daily, he believes the water is ok now and the shrimp are safe to eat.  We heard conflicting stories in our visit, but the over-arching message that emerged was that things are beginning to settle down and return to ‘normal’ for many of the locals.

There is a strong need to believe what they are being told by the local officials and government agencies such as NOAA, because the water and fish that live in it are truly their lives.  Without fishing, there is no community.  Fishing is a way of providing food, income, time for family and friends to spend together, and also a way to simply relax.  All of this and more was lost when the water was closed to fishing.

We were on Grand Isle just 2 weeks after some of the waters in the area were opened for fishing again and there was definitely a sense of relief amongst the fishermen that they were able to return to this important ritual that sustains them on so many levels.  However, when the conversation veered to the presence of chemical dispersants in the water, the tone changed.

In future posts, we will dig deeper into this issue, including in-depth interviews with Lori from Alabama, who told us about the ongoing use of dispersants and their affect on the water and air near her home.  We posted a quick entry on her perspective on dispersant use, but will be revisiting this issue in greater detail in the days ahead.

Thanks for following along.

27

08 2010

Reflecting

We arrived back in Atlanta Monday night at 11pm exhausted, but inspired.  It has been a process of reflecting for us, and I think we are each processing what we have just experienced in our own way.  There is a ton of content to sort through and post, and over the next couple of weeks, we will be posting stories that we have uncovered along the way, including more in-depth stories from our time with those who we have mentioned already.

In the meantime, here is a quick pictorial of our journey.  Check our Flickr page for more stunning images, with many more to come.

We filled the tank with B100 Biodiesel at SA White Oil in Marietta, Ga. on the way out.  Special thanks to Travis for the fill-up!

Biodiesel Fill-up in Marietta, Ga.

After a full day of driving, we were crossing the bridge over Lake Pontchartrain in the late afternoon

Lake Pontchartrain

We stopped to take several pictures down in the delta on the way to Grand Isle, La.

Sprit of the Gulf Coast Team

Sunset over the Louisiana Delta

I was glad to be at camp after a long day of travel

Brandon at Camp on Grand Isle

I didn’t know Terrell had it in him

Terrell Clark at Camp on Grand Isle

Saturday morning, the sunrise over Grand Isle was incredibly beautiful

Grand Isle Sunrise

Grand Isle Sunrise

Terrell captures some incredible images on the Gulf Stream Marina

Man Fishing on Grand Isle - Terrell Clark Photography

Terrell at work

Terrell Clark on the Gulf Stream Marina

Provocative installation on Grand Isle

Grand Isle BP Oil Spill Demonstration

Grand Isle Oil Spill Demonstration

We stopped for lunch before our boat charter and talked with some locals

Lunch Stop

On to Bridge Side Marina to meet Captain Kenny for our offshore tour

Bridge Side Marina - Grand Isle, LA

Our team hops aboard with Captain Kenny of Bent Rod Offshore Fishing Charter

Bent Rod Offshore Fishing Charter

Terrell takes advantage of our stopover at the oil rig to capture this image

Oil rig caught in the net

Andy tests the water for herself

Andy tests the water

Terrell takes it all in

Terrell Clark takes it all in

We got to see the BP cleanup operation in progress

BP Cleanup operation

After our offshore tour, we ran into Alexandra Cousteau’s Expedition Blue Planet team on the Marina – awesome people!

Expedition Blue Planet

That night, we met some local fishermen on the bridge, including this very energetic boy with his bucket of crabs

Kid on the Bridge - Grand Isle, LA

On Sunday afternoon we headed to Pearlington, MS where we talked with some local Katrina survivors

Smoking

Our final stop took us to Alabama near Dauphin Island – we stopped to see who was behind this provocative imagery

Provocative Signs

Dispersant statement outside Dauphin Island, AL

We found the creator, Lori and had a deep discussion with her on her experience.

Lori & Kim

We have a ton of content to prepare and upload.  Stay tuned for the video interviews of the people we connected with, and the additional imagery yet to be posted.  If you are not already following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, check us out on those channels too, and you can also subscribe to the blog posts via email on the top right of the page.  Thank you to everyone who is following our journey!


25

08 2010

Conflicting Emotions, part 1

Saturday on Grand Isle was definitely different than anything I could have imagined before we embarked on this journey.  There is definitely a spirit here – one that defies description. It was this spirit – the spirit of the people in this community and many others like it that drove us to come on this amazing journey.

We got up early to catch the sunrise over the beach behind our ‘camp’ – this is how the locals refer to the compounds that are essentially houses on stilts that are full of bedrooms with multiple beds in each bedroom.  The camp we are staying in has 6 bedrooms, and more beds than we could even think about using. Josie at the Port Commission found this place for us after all of the cabins and motels we called were totally full (mainly with BP cleanup workers, Coast Guard, etc.).  Josie has truly been the most helpful resource we could have asked for here on Grand Isle, and we can’t thank her enough!  So, Saturday morning bright and early we walked out onto the beach to get some pictures.  I got what I believe are some very beautiful images of a fisherman wading in the tide at sunrise.

Grand Isle at Sunrise 8.21.10

Part of the team had already ventured down to the Gulf Stream Marina prior to sunrise and were already talking with some fishermen that had driven down from other parts of the state.  Nathan and I decided we would walk down the beach and meet up with them.  Not long into the walk, we saw a golf cart stop on the beach to pick something up.  Curious, I walked over and discovered that the man driving the cart had stopped to pick up a tar ball.  When I asked him if I could take a picture of it, he told me that I could take a picture, but I had to hold it because he did not want to be photographed.  He handed it to me on a glove and drove away.  See the video we recorded below:

We met up with Kim and Terrell who had been hanging with the fishermen on the pier and talked with a group of fishermen that had just arrived and were getting ready to head out on their boat (video to come soon).  They didn’t seem bothered by the oil fallout and were happy to be back out fishing.

Terrell Clark on the Gulf Stream Marina

After our quick chat with them, we regrouped back at camp before heading out to the East side of the island where we quickly ran across a very poignant scenes that was a harsh reminder of the magnitude of what happened here in this region and just how much of an impact it has had on the lives of those in these communities.

The Soul of Grand Isle, LA

Earlier, I had made some phone calls to arrange a boat to take us out into the Gulf, including one to Captain D, who Josie told us about Friday evening. Before leaving on this trip, we knew we wanted to get out and see the water and shoreline from the perspective of the local fishermen.  Their stories have been particularly of interest to me personally after my conversations with a few of the local fishermen in Venice a month ago.

Since the oil spill, the fisherman have not been able to so what they love to do most, fish.  So basically, you either sign up in the Vessels of Opportunity program (work for BP) and hope to get picked, or you don’t work.  Some of the people that did sign up on the VOO program were not picked to be utilized.  After a few phone calls, we ran across one of them, Kenny from Bent Rod Offshore Fishing Charter.  We made it a point early on in the planning stages of the Sprit of the Gulf Coast expedition that we were going to try to support the local economies as much as possible, and since fishing is such a huge part of the economy, chartering a local boat and having the time to connect with one of the people on the front lines as he gave us a peek into his world was a no brainer.

There are limited areas of the Gulf that have been reopened to fishing in the last 2 weeks, so some fishermen are back out on the water.  But that doesn’t mean things are back to normal.  Kenny would normally have a full calendar of charters this time of year, but today we were able to call him up and get out on the water a couple of hours later.  In my next entry, I’ll describe our 3-hour trip out into the Gulf with our incredible tour guide, Kenny, along with video footage of oil sheen just offshore and barely detectable, but nonetheless present crude oil droplets. Stay tuned for more to follow soon.  In the meantime, here are a few photos I took on Flickr.

22

08 2010