Post Katrina Update
Post-Katrina update on the Dauphin Island Sea Lab
provided more than the usual misery of agony and
decision-making, but in the final analysis did little more
damage than Tropical Storm Cindy or Hurricane Dennis. In
contrast to our sister laboratories in Mississippi and
Louisiana, the Sea Lab was spared serious damage. This is
in part due to the fact that much of the damage from
Hurricane Ivan had not yet been repaired in terms of
boardwalks to the beach and The Estuarium. A number of Sea
Lab staff lost their homes or were seriously impacted by the
storm surge both on Dauphin Island and in Bayou La Batre.
We were not without personal impact — just better off than
R/V A.E. Verrill (left) in the salt marshes of
the Pascagoula River after Hurricane Katrina.
Photo by Dr. John Dindo.
Our 65-foot main
educational vessel, the R/V A.E. Verrill, was in a
Pascagoula, MS shipyard for routine repairs and was towed
some distance up the Pascagoula River by the shipyard.
During the peak of the storm surge, despite being tied up to
a tugboat, she was washed completely into the marsh where
Dr. Dindo soon after found her by flying over the region.
Later, our friends at the Coast Guard facility took him and
a couple of the vessel operations personnel to the vessel,
where they determined that there was no significant damage.
The tug was still attached and was able to free her with
minimal subsequent harm. The yard graciously repaired her
and she has returned to full service.
The R.V. E.O. Wilson got
hung up on the wharf at the Port Authority in Mobile, but
Captain Tom Guoba waded through chest-deep water to get to
her. With the help of a security guard, he was able to free
her with only a few “cuts and scrapes”. (There is a much
longer story to this adventure but not space enough to tell
Water heights on the south
side of the campus appear to have exceeded those of
Hurricane Frederic (1979) by a little. Only summer school
facilities under Galathea Hall were damaged, and we did lose
most of the teaching collection. Slight roof damage has been
noted at a number of locations, but nothing serious.
The main personal damage on
site may have been the weight gained by the lunchtime
basketball crew while the court was buried in 4-5 feet of
-- Dr. George
Aquarist Brian Jones pursues one of the cobia in the
16,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico tank.
Dr. Sean Powers is working
on a National Science Foundation-funded study to look at the
effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the nearshore
ecosystem of Lake Pontchatrain. This rapid-response
research will examine both the contaminant and biological
data of the estuarine ecosystem, and the storms’ impact on
benthic invertebrates and fish...The Estuarium has given the
devastated New Orleans Aquarium of the Americas a donation
by helping replace some of the animals lost in the storm.
We gave over 40 fresh and saltwater fish to the aquarium,
including a couple of 40-lb. cobia. “We’re happy to help
out in any way we can,” said Estuarium Manager Robert
Dixon. Senior Aquarist Brian Jones took on quite a
challenge as he managed to catch the larger fish in the Gulf
of Mexico tank without injury to himself, the fish, or the