Back to the Greasy Gulf...

I'm back on oil-spill detail in the Gulf of  Mexico, this time working in the sweltering salt marshes of southern Louisiana.  As part of a marsh-assessment team, our task is to collect vegetative data as well as soil and plant tissue samples to assess the extent of oil damage to the marsh grass beds. 

One of our sample sites

This work was started last spring just after the spill happened (a year ago now!) and we are re-sampling the study plots that were initially erected to account for changes in vegetative structure.  Already we have seen signs of erosion.  As oil contamination killed the marsh grass, the beds have eroded back.  At some sites, residual oil can still be seen in the grass beds and in the wrack line of dead vegetation.

At this point, our findings are only empirical; the samples we collect are sent off to a lab for physical and chemical analyses.  I am hopeful that the data we are collecting will be a critical tool in elucidating the details of how the oil spill has impacted the marshes, and the native flora and fauna of the Gulf of Mexico.