LDWF Grand Isle Research Lab Set as a Staging Ground for Oil Spill Response

Release Date: 05/09/2010

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries research lab located at Grand Isle has been activated as a staging ground for south central Louisiana oil-spill related actions.  Twenty LDWF biologists and National Marine Fisheries biologists are stationed at the lab, along with more than 20 LDWF enforcement agents with six vessels are stationed for rescue, monitoring and recovery efforts.

"We are thrilled to open the doors of our state-of-the-art facility to all agencies involved in the oil-spill recovery efforts," said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham.  "We are making every effort to mitigate the effects of the oil on Louisiana's wildlife and our diligent efforts to recover animals will help give these creatures the best chance."

LDWF fisheries biologists will conduct daily beach patrols for oil-affected marine mammals, sea turtles and birds.  These surveys will cover more than 25 miles of beach including Grand Terre, Grand Isle, Elmer's Island and Port Fourchon.

Upon discovery of oil-impacted wildlife, a team of four biologists will respond to the location to make an assessment of the animal.  Oiled marine mammals such as dolphins, manatees, whales and sea turtles are taken to the Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. Birds and other wildlife species are transported to the Oiled Wildlife Recon and Recovery Facility at Fort Jackson near Venice, LA where they are examined and triaged. 

In an effort to determine a cause of death, deceased wildlife are brought to the Grand Isle lab where biologists perform full necropsies.  Once all procedures are complete, LDWF biologists in coordination with NOAA, collect samples, document necessary data and finally secure specimen for further scientific research.

While staged at the Grand Isle fisheries research lab, biologists are also conducting daily offshore patrols surveying for distressed marine life and field surveys of local estuaries for oiled birds.

About the Grand Isle Fisheries Research Lab

The $23 million, state-of-the-art lab supports resource sampling and research work performed by Office of Fisheries staff, which drives the decision making process for management of the resources within the entire state.  Biologists based in Grand Isle study a variety of marine species including finfish, crab, shrimp and oysters and their associated habitat, which are all vital to the economy of Louisiana.

The following measures were taken to ensure that the facility is hurricane and flood proof:

Dredged material from construction of the marina was used to build the site up to 6 feet above sea level
The buildings are raised to 12 feet above the new grade which results in the finished floors being 18 feet above sea level
All elements at grade are designed to "wash out" during a high flood event
The buildings are constructed of concrete columns, beams, floors and walls to withstand  150+ MPH winds

The new facility will allow LDWF to continue to build on the cooperative working relationships with the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program.

Facility space is available in the visitors' lab to accommodate the research needs of any public group or visiting scientist and can provide meeting space for up to 100 people.

For more information contact Laura Deslatte at ldeslatte@wlf.la.gov or 225-610-2363.