Volume 8 - January 12, 2004

Moving Day

CC and Rhea decided to do a big project called Marshmission. Both artists love the wetlands of Louisiana and through their work they hope to bring awareness of the beauty and importance of these valuable places to our nation. Rhea travels the marsh of south Louisiana frequently getting inspiration for the lovely paintings she creates. CC wanted to “live” in the wetlands as he studies the many diverse habitats. In 1978, CC moved on a houseboat and lived and worked in the Atchafalaya swamp for over two years. The result was his first book, ATCHAFALAYA, America’s Largest River Basin Swamp. Living on a houseboat along Louisiana’s coastal waterways is a dream come true for CC.


Boats are complicated! We have had our share of problems but, what an adventure each day on a houseboat is! Moving day is especially fun. Our houseboating plan is to move through Louisiana’s wetlands staying about six days in each area to take photos and explore.


Leaving the Lake Pontchartrain area with our new dingy hanging off our stern, we motored toward our destination of Lafitte, Louisiana. We had to travel through two industry lined canals and two locks and we even drove right past the New Orleans French Quarter on the Mississippi River. Our short drive up the Mississippi proved to be a challenge! Turning into the mighty river from a canal, we were immediately in some very rough water. Busy with barges and other river traffic, I began to feel like I was on a ride at Six Flags! Passing under the big Mississippi River Bridge in downtown New Orleans I realized the bow of our smaller boat had been knocked off its strap and was dangling wildly in the river swells. I screamed to CC who told me to come steer the big boat as he worked to secure the little boat. We paused for ten minutes as we frantically worked on our “dangling dingy,” then we continued upriver to the Harvey Lock that would lead us into the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway that crosses south Louisiana.  Before we new it a US Coastguard boat pulled along side of the Wetland Wanderer and requested permission to board and search our “suspicious” craft! Our country was on high alert for terrorist and our behavior near the big bridge made us suspect. What fine young people they were and after realizing we were not bad guys, they too were interested in marshmission. We were impressed with the coastguard charged with keeping our waters safe!


After an exciting moving day we entered the small, fishing village town of Lafitte where we would dock for three days and explore. We found a unique community where many people use the boats parked in their backyards as often as they use a car! Shrimp boats, work boats, sport fishing boats and Lafitte skiffs lined Bayou Barataria. Tugboats cruised up and down bringing supplies into the marshes of Barataria Bay. Two tugboat men, Jody Cheramie and Carol Lee were interested in our project. As we visited, Jody invited us to visit his camp near Golden Meadow where he has hunted and fished all his life. He said that the land loss in that area was so great that each time he goes he is met with a different landscape! Jody and Carol were born and raised in the large area known as the Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary. It is located between the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers and encompasses nearly four million areas of wetlands. This diverse region is losing close to twenty-one square miles of land yearly, more in the rest of the state! A great group called The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program is working on many projects to help restore this habitat.  Look at their website and learn about the many programs they have to protect and restore this estuary.

Commendable Cormorants

Arf! This is Annie the M.U.T.T. of the marsh reporting to you on a strange dark bird I have been noticing  all over south Louisiana. Most birds I know about fly, but this odd critter flies, floats, and dives! I love to watch the double-crested cormorant, phalacrocorax auritus, stand on a rock or post and dry its wings. Cormorants float very low in the water with just their head and neck sticking up above the surface of the water.


These birds are excellent fishermen. Cormorants hunt by sight and can see well in the air or in the water. When they spot a fish, they dive in and chase it underwater, using their webbed feet as paddles. Cormorants can stay underwater up to a minute and they have been known to dive as deep as 90 feet! Because their wings are not totally waterproof like a ducks, when they first leave the water they stand still holding their wings open to dry before flying. I was swimming with 2 very nice cormorants in Barataria Bay and they told me they love to eat fish, shrimp, frogs, crawfish, crabs, and sometimes even snakes! I was staring at their yellow bills with a hooked end (which was not very mannerly) so they dove under and I climbed ashore. I must mind my manners with the new friends I am meeting in the marsh. Some of them are quite sensitive!



- The United States Coastguard does the important job of guarding our waterways well.
- The Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary lies between the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers and covers nearly four million acres of fertile and diverse wetlands.
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1. Write a journal entry about a time you were questioned about something that you were not involved with. Have you ever been blamed for something bad or given credit for something good that you had no part in? How did you handle the situation?

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