Today we began our sampling of dissolved organic matter in Barataria Bay. It was also the first day that recreational fisheries were opened after being closed for 3 months.
Photo right: broken oil booms.
While the BP leak has been temporarily stopped, we still see many boats attending to broken booms that have collapsed around small islands of mangroves and marshes.
Photo left: Robert Cook, analytical chemist in the cool room with sample bottles.
The primary station we collected from today is in a region believed to have not been affected by oil contamination. We will use this as a baseline for our comparisons with the two contaminated stations in the bay we will sample tomorrow. Because we have to filter so much water at each site it takes approximately 4 hours at each station. Once we return to the Louisiana Fisheries and Wildlife research station, where we are staying, we store the filtered water in plastic carboys in a cold room.
The salinity of water was in the range of about 8 at our "uncontaminated" and had an oxygen value of 4 mg/L. The low salinities observed today may be a reflection of the opening of the Davis Pond Diversion gate in the northern part of the bay which has allowed Mississippi River water to enter the at approximately 10,000 cubic feet/ sec. in an attempt to keep the oil out of the bay.
Photo right: Alex Kolker, piloting the boat, a wetland scientist at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON).
Unfortunately, some oysterman have reported that this has killed some of their oyster beds because of the rapid reduction in salinity. Further work would be needed to validate these reports.
Across the road from our facility, the beaches along Grand Isle have the glow of large city. This surreal setting has a with fast numbers of white tent stations, bulldozers, people in white and orange garb, and in evening, bright work lights that blind the eye. All of this is connected to a large metal structure with that is being used as part of the oil separation process in cleaning beach sands.
Photo right: Barataria Bay
Tomorrow we sample two contaminated sites in the bay.