December 2005,Vol. 16, No. 4  .

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Post Katrina Update

Post-Katrina update on the Dauphin Island Sea Lab

Hurricane Katrina 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 many others.

  The 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 it.)

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 sand!

            -- Dr. George F. Crozier
                Executive Director


Post-Katrina Activities

  Senior 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 tank.

Dauphin Island Sea Lab, 101 Bienville Blvd, Dauphin Island, AL 36528  / (251) 861- 2141
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