By Hal Herring
Editor’s Note: Field & Stream Contributing Editor Hal Herring and photographer/FlyTalk blogger Tim Romano are at the Louisiana coast this week to cover the impact of the oil spill on the region’s sportsmen. Their reports, photographs, and videos will be posted here at The Conservationist blog.
12 miles off South Pass, Venice, Louisiana--I’m not trying to be dramatic, but the oil spill, once you find it, looks more like a wide and shimmering mat of raw sewage than petrochemicals released from thousands of feet beneath the bottom of the ocean. It is orange- one could surmise that it contains iron that is oxidizing like rusty blobs of pot metal, exposed to the air on the surface of what used to be blue water. Held in the hand, it has the consistency of warm axle grease, and is at least as hard to remove, given that we are far from the nearest tub of Go-Jo. In the orange mat, which stretches out of sight in the snake-like contours of the ocean current that pushes and pulls it, trash is mired, along with hundreds of rainbow–hued Portuguese men-of-war, the big jellyfish of the Gulf (see photo). At one point, a big loggerhead turtle can be seen, in the mat, eating an oil-covered man-of war. It has always amazed me that these turtles’ favorite snack is a hyper-weird creature with long tentacles covered with stinging cells, but the ocean is another world, not bound by the rules, or desires, or disgusts, of mankind.