Audubon Oil Spill Response Team Update #1: Hope, uncertainty, preparation
Gretna, Louisiana, 2:54 a.m.
A jumble of emotions – complex as Louisiana's marshes and bayous – plays with my consciousness tonight. The oil spill, the specter, looms out there in the Gulf, growing in magnitude and malice every moment, threatening this place that teems with more life and color than my mind can take in.
Forster’s Terns grasp silver fish in orange bills tipped black. Tricolored Herons pepper one island in dozens; White Ibises swirl in a tight, brilliant flock.
Laughing Gulls laugh, cry, murmur, wail, and the air makes my skin sticky. A frigatebird makes an appearance.
And the Brown Pelicans, a bird Audubon has been fighting to save since the organization began, sit on their nests, taking in the world through clear white eyes.
For today, these birds are safe, and to be among them is bliss. That no threat is visible gives me giddy hope that all is well, that nothing will come of all the warnings and dire predictions.
But birds elsewhere are under siege, beginning to make contact with oil as they dive for fish in contaminated waters. We are stuck in a sickening waiting game, knowing that some birds are oiled and that others soon will be, knowing that the entire ecosystem is being poisoned, wondering what tomorrow will bring, and the next day, and the next year.
Audubon isn’t idle as the crisis unfolds. We’re working around the clock, and with your kind permission and the blessing of the staff at Audubon magazine, I’d like to tell you that story bit by bit in the coming days. But first, I’ve got to get some sleep. I will see pelicans when I finally close my eyes. I think I see them already.
Mississippi River Initiative
National Audubon Society