During the months immediately following the BP Oil Spill in April of 2010, Turtle Cove staff began an intensive monitoring program of the western region of Lake Pontchartrain in order to determine whether or not oil was making its way into the basin. Monitoring efforts included water quality sampling, benthic (bottom of lake) sampling, and shoreline surveys each week.
Listed below are some of the activities and media-related events that Turtle Cove staff and other Southeastern researchers were involved in during this time, related to the oil spill and other issues.
Three rounds of water sampling and visual surveyance show no presence of oil in the lake. Testing of clams taken from the bottom of the lake as well as amphibian and vegetative monitoring efforts remain ongoing. Turtle Cove staff will continue this voluntary monitoring and is still looking to receive funding.
Turtle Cove is looking forward to hosting Sid Mitra, assistant professor of Geological Sciences at East Carolina University, as he performs atmosphere and water sampling at our Turtle Cove Galva Canal Boatshed/Classroom facility. Set to arrive July 21, Professor Mitra's focus is to quantify marine-to-land transfer of hydrocarbons from the spill during the 2010 hurricane season. National Geographic will be on hand to film his work for a documentary.
Turtle Cove staff has now completed two cycles of conducting water quality and benthic monitoring on the west and east sides of the Pontchartrain Basin. Turtle Cove grad student Ryan Willis (directed by Dr. Brian Crother) has also begun to re-establish amphibian monitoring along historic research transects across the Manchac Swamp.These increased efforts function to gather base-line data in the event that oil does make its way into Lake Pontchartrain.
As news emerges of tar balls found in the far eastern region of Lake Pontchartrain, Turtle Cove has now added another component of monitoring. Starting last week, Hayden Reno (Turtle Cove Caretaker/Facilities Technician) began conducting visual shoreline surveys of the western edge of Lake Pontchartrain both north (to the Tangipahoa River) and south (to the Peavine community) of Pass Manchac for evidence of tar balls and oil sheen, making approximately 8-12 shoreline inspection points in each direction. This method is very similar to one the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation employed to detect the tar balls in eastern Lake Pontchartrain. Any findings will be reported to local LDWF Enforcement agents.
Work performed by the Turtle Cove staff is supported solely by existing funds. We are hoping to receive some reimbursement from BP in the future.
Marsh Restoration Coordinator Fred Stouder is currently leading Turtle Cove's team of staff in collecting samples to test water and benthic qualities from Lakes Maurepas, Pontchartrain and Borne. These samples will be used to determine, on an ongoing basis, whether the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill is causing harm to or adversely effecting our local waters.
Southeastern faculty members, Dr. Phil Voegel (Chemistry) and Dr. Bill Font (Biology) have volunteered their time to perform the necessary lab work to measure the collected samples for evidence of hydrocarbons.
"Southeastern Louisiana University students have carried out the project placing recycled Christmas trees in the wetlands." Volunteer businesses and Tangipahoa parish stepped in to aid the effort when program funding was cut.
The latest episode of Backyard Wonders explores different Louisiana state emblems from the state wildflower and flower, to wildlife, and even the Creole tomato and beignet. Read the article in Southeastern's Lions Roar and watch the video to learn more about Louisiana wildlife.
The Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station has entered the third phase of its renovation following damage from Hurricane Katrina: elevation of the entire station by three feet, replacement of the outer siding, new electrical wiring and air conditioning units. Turtle Cove has been unable to conduct educational overnight trips and events since the devastating damage occurred five years ago. Turtle Cove's marsh restoration programs will be extended thanks to a generous grant provided by the Monsanto Company in the amount of $4,500.
Dr. Rob Moreau joins Bill Joubert, Director of Southeast Louisiana Business Center, and Carlton Dufrechou, General Manager of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, along with host Steve Bellas for a roundtable discussion on the current state of the Gulf Oil Spill.
Turtle Cove's monitoring has yet to show evidence of oil in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin.
Episode VI of Backyard Wonders, entitled "State Emblems and Symbols" investigates the Louisiana's various nature-related emblems. Show to premiere on Saturday August 21 at 8:00 pm.
"Southeastern Louisiana University's Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station has received a $4,500 grant from the Monsanto Fund, a private foundation and the philanthropic arm of the Monsanto Company, to help support wetlands restoration programs in Tangipahoa and St. John the Baptist parishes."
Backyard Wonders dedicates a special episode to the oil spill's potential harm to the environment, including effects to the fragile wetland and marsh areas and threats to wildlife. This special features history of the Deep Water Horizon spill as well as footage of sampling and testing performed by Turtle Cove staff. Learn how Turtle Cove has teamed up with Southeastern faculty from the Chemistry and Biology departments to monitor the western Lake Pontchartrain region.
Details of Turtle Cove's water and amphibian sampling in the Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas with testing performed by Southeastern faculty members. We would like to acknowledge the following corrections to the article: Fred Stouder is collecting the water samples (not Bryan Willis); Graduate assistant Ryan Willis (not Bryan Willis) is doing amphibian sampling with Brian Crother (not water sampling); and Bill Font is analyzing the bottom grab samples--clams specifically (not Brian Crother).
In an interview with KSLU Rob Moreau addresses the appearance of tar balls in and around Lake Pontchartrain and how Turtle Cove staff is responding.
"Dr. Moreau explains importance of keeping marshes clean."
"Southeastern scientists and faculty have mobilized to record the impacts of the disaster as they apply to the region."
Southeastern's radio station interviews Turtle Cove manager Rob Moreau.
Southeastern's Turtle Cove manager Rob Moreau speaks about the economic, environmental and cultural impact of the oil spill on Tangipahoa Parish and surrounding areas at a special event hosted by the Hammond Chamber of Commerce on June 9.
Dr. Robert Moreau presents, "Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill on the Northshore." Watch the video now online at Southeastern Channel.
A rehabilitation center for birds affected by the oil spill is relocating to Hammond from Fort Jackson in an effort to avoid any damage from the upcoming hurricane season.