Hundreds of animals are dying due to freshwater in the Sound

More beaches have been added to the list of closures on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Now people and their pets need to avoid 12 areas due to contamination from the blue-green algal bloom, but this problem goes way past swimming.

“It’s like a giant aquatic hurricane that hit the Mississippi Sound.” The freshwater coming into the Mississippi Sound from the Bonnet Carre Spillway has been called a disaster for our Coast by many experts including Dr. Moby Solangi, the director of the Institute for the Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport. “The consequences, in our opinion, are a lot worse than the BP Oil Spill. With the oil spill they were able to cap the well, close it down, and go and move on. With this one, the water will keep coming and this problem will get worse. In time, as years go by, it will even get worse.”

Multiple beaches in Harrison and Hancock counties are closed due to the toxic algae, but that’s not the worst of the Coast’s problems. Animals are dying at record-breaking numbers due to the spillway opening. “It’s really bad. We have had 131 dolphins that have died so far and 165 sea turtles which are the most endangered in the world.”

Not only are the animals dying, they are facing slow and painful deaths. “With dolphins, they start developing sores on their bodies because these are salt water animals,” Solangi said. “Being in freshwater, the sores then become points of infections that kill the animals very slowly. So, it is a very slow death.”

This is the longest stretch of time the spillway has been opened. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the process of closing the spillway could start the second or third week of July.

“Even if they close today, it will be months before Lake Pontchartrain is emptied out,” Solangi said. “So, we will keep on seeing these effects for many weeks or months after the closure of the spillway.”

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