Barry and the Spillway: Looking into the impact on marine life

With the delayed closing of the Bonnet Carre Spillway, things are not looking bright for Mississippi Sound marine life.

According to the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, 133 dolphins and 179 sea turtles are dead so far this year, due to the fresh water being pushed into the Mississippi Sound from the Bonnet Carre Spillway opening and Lake Pontchartrain.

Barry caused more flooding in Louisiana which in turn pushed back the spillway closing date and caused spikes in the Sound’s salinity levels.

IMMS Director Dr. Moby Solangi says these levels are only temporary. With all of the pollutants being pushed into the Sound from flood water, those levels will decrease again.

Dr. Solangi says they have seen a decline in the number of marine deaths recently. But with Barry causing the spillway to stay open longer, Solangi expects another spike within the next few weeks.

“The entire ecosystem is under a lot of stress. As I have quoted before, it is a category five aquatic hurricane,” he said. “It has totally destroyed the infrastructure of the ecosystem. It has a lot of cumulative effects, but it is something that we have never experienced and in my opinion, it is worse than the BP Oil Spill.”

Dr. Solangi also mentioned once those algae blooms start to die off, its effects will still be felt by marine life and the seafood industry.

When that algae dies, the oxygen in the water is consumed, which could cause a spike in death of the aquatic life in the area.

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