Blogging for a Healthy Gulf

 

Sea fans, sea whips and bamboo coral are all members of the order Alcyonacea, one of three orders of octocoral. There are many other types of coral in this order, but these three are common and interesting deep sea dwelling organisms. Keeping all these corals straight can be confusing because this same order was previously known as Gorgonacea, so corals in the order are commonly referred to as gorgonian corals. 
 
Alcyonacea most commonly occur as branching corals that look like plants, with a main trunk and branching stems (left (white), with an orange crinoid). Ranging from large fleshy masses to smaller feathered-pen-looking organisms, this family of corals is among the most diverse of deep sea corals and are united by having bony skeletons.
 
There are a number of sites in the Gulf that have uniquely...

 
Do not let Trump kill the Clean Water Rule

Trump's EPA is trying to remove valuable protections for our rivers, streams, and wetlands!

The Clean Water Rule provides common sense protections for streams and wetlands across the country. It protects drinking water sources for nearly 1 in 3 Americans. It protects wetlands throughout the nation that filter pollutant, absorb floodwaters, dampen storm surge and provide habitat for countless wildlife. It was a no-brainer supported by millions of Americans and backed by science. 

But that is all at risk nowTake action to protect our water.

The Trump administration wants to roll back these protections.  We can't let that happen. Make your voice heard - send a message to EPA today. Tell Administrator Scott Pruitt: Hands off our water.

Clean Water is essential to human health, vital to healthy communities, and necessary for a robust economy.  We rely on these small streams for drinking water and these wetlands...

 
Pearl River
An aerial view of the Pearl River. Photo Credit: Bonny Schumaker, On Wings of Care.

This article is excerpted from the Summer 2017 issue of Gulf Currents, GRN's bi-annual printed newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here

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GRN advocates for the Pearl River’s restoration and against further damming. The proposal to build a 1500-acre flood control lake on the Pearl River in Jackson, Mississippi has been in the study stage since 2013. In summer 2017, we expect feasibility studies and a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the “One Lake” project to be published. The project poses risks to habitats and to the health of the Pearl River downstream of Jackson. There is already a large dam on the Pearl River, impounding the Ross Barnett Reservoir, upstream from Jackson. Further channel modifications from a second lake include dredging the river deeper and wider, filling 1000 acres of floodplain wetlands, and blocking flow with a weir south of Interstate...

 

The August 5th flooding was rough on many New Orleanians - with floodwaters swamping homes, cars and businesses. Our thoughts go out to those who are still dealing with the aftermath. And more flooding could be on the way - stay safe.

This week, the City Council met to try to figure out what happened and what we do now. Several city officials have since stepped down or been fired. This is what we do now: demand accountability and innovation from our city’s current and future leaders.

This massive flood event is wake up call. The system is broken, it must be fixed. We have a system that is focused only on pumping...

 
A Victory for Clean Water in Saucier
Bobby shows the runoff flowing to Tuxachanie Creek on DeSoto N.F.

This summer, Gulf Restoration Network and our members Bobby Tubre and his grandfather, Don Williams, in Saucier reached an agreement with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on a new treatment permit for Lakeview R/V Resort. To arrive at this agreement, it took three years of negotiations and advocacy in the form of correspondence with MDEQ, many individual phone calls, one conference call, two different private water quality testing labs, site visits by MDEQ staff, water samples examined by MDEQ labs, plus two sets of comment letters from GRN, correspondence with the Mississippi Department of Health, and a report by WLOX TV Action Reporter A.J. Giardina.


Our introduction to Mr. Tubre was in the summer of 2014 when he found me through contacts on the Coast and explained what was happening next door at the Lakeview R/V Resort – a campground with a lagoon and sprayfield sewage treatment...

 

Squat Lobsters on Black Coral. Image credit: NOAA's National Ocean Service

Black corals, contrary to their name, do not appear black but instead come in a range of colors including red, orange, white and green. The name comes from their skeleton, which is indeed black. Black corals belong to the order Antipatharia, a hexacoral, and occur all over the world at a variety of depths. Black corals differ from stony corals, another order of hexacoral, by having a flexible skeletons made of protein and chitin, a fibrous substance that makes up a majority of exoskeletons of arthropods and fungi cell walls. This compound allows them to move in the current, unlike stony skeletons with their rigid frames. The compound of black coral skeleton serves another function, as a record keeper. Their skeletons grow, similar to tree rings, cataloguing changes in their environments and allowing us to see how oceans of...

 
Hilcorp Energy pipeline leak in coastal Louisiana
Hilcorp Energy pipeline leak in coastal Louisiana.

This article is excerpted from the Summer 2017 issue of Gulf Currents, GRN's bi-annual printed newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here

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At a recent national gathering of environmental and conservation activists, it became very clear that my colleagues from the East, Mid-West, and West were extremely stressed and disheartened by the efforts of Congress and the White House to neutralize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and roll back environmental laws. Comparatively, most of my colleagues from the South, although disturbed, were not too phased by what was going on. Why would there be this difference in outlook?

The answer lies, I believe, in the fact that Southern states, under the leadership of either party, are already loath to regulate business or industry, particularly if there is a promise of jobs....

 
Sperm whales in Gulf of Mexico

The press release below was issued today by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, Gulf Restoration Network and Sierra Club.

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WASHINGTON— The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has released a final environmental impact statement that concludes seismic surveys for oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico would cause significant harm to marine mammals. The long-awaited review comes in response to a court-ordered settlement of a lawsuit brought by environmental groups. Its release comes as President Trump seeks to expand offshore drilling in federal waters.

The analysis finds that as many as 31.9 million marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico will be injured and harassed by oil and gas seismic surveys. This includes 80 percent of the Gulf’s endangered sperm whale population, estimated at 763 animals. Sperm whales will experience as many as 760,000 harassing exposures to airgun blasting over the next...

 
2017 Gulf Dead Zone
2017 Gulf Dead Zone Measurement. Courtesy LSU and LUMCON

Today, researchers from Louisiana State University (LSU) and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) announced that the 8,776 square mile (New Jersey-sized) Dead Zone is the largest Dead Zone on record. The Dead Zone is fueled by fertilizer pollution flowing down the Mississippi River from the American heartland, which causes massive algae blooms that use up oxygen sea life needs to survive. This historically large Dead Zone measurement comes on the heels of a new report, released by Mighty Earth, which identifies the companies responsible for much of the animal waste and fertilizer pollution that contribute to the Dead Zone.

”This massive Dead Zone shows that current efforts from States and the...

 

Lophelia, a species of stony coral, is the most common structure-forming deep sea coral in the Gulf of Mexico. Lophelia can live, continuously growing, for over 1,000 years and stretch up to 100 feet above the seafloor. Individual polyps are thought to live approximately 20 years, with new, young polyps growing on older parts of the structure, both living and dead. 

When alive Lophelia is often bright white but can also appear pink or yellow, depending on the color of the mostly-translucent polyp. Regardless of the color when alive, Lophelia appears brown after it has died (left, with a goosefish). Dead specimens are valuable in the deep sea community as they form hard substrate for other organisms to live in and for other species of coral to grow...

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Recent Posts

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