Louisiana Swamps and Bayous
Acadians, Creole’s and Cajuns
Louisiana has a fascinating history: the Louisiana Purchase; the settlers arriving in Acadia; the enduring culture of the Cajuns; and the grand and somewhat dominant Creoles. You can see a bit of it all in New Orleans, but you’ve got to get out into the Louisiana Swamps and Bayous to get a real taste of life in rural Louisiana. And you don’t have to go far – N’Awlins is bounded by water on all three sides: three out of the four main highways into the Big Easy are elevated over the swamps and Lake Pontchartrain.
Jean Lafitte Nature Preserve
The Swamps and Bayous of the Barataria Nature Preserve was somewhere we visited often – particularly in Spring and Fall. Along this 2 mile boardwalk along the Kenta Canal, the wildlife photography opportunities were immense – provided you took care to watch for the snakes, spiders and the alligators. I’d never been this close to a ‘gator before, and it was a little worrying to be within a few feet of an outwardly docile reptile capable of such devastating attacks.
Bonnet Carre Spillway
It was an interesting time to be in Louisiana – the Bonnet Carre Spillway was opened twice in the 5 years we were there. This flood defence mechanism reduced flow in the Mississippi to a mere 1 million cubic feet per second, discharging the excess across the swamps of St Charles Parish into Lake Pontchartrain. It made for an awesome spectacle – at both ends of the spillway – and somewhat unnerving too, particularly watching the torrent of water spilling around the seemingly fragile Amtrack bridges.
The south east Louisiana Swamps and wetlands attract alot of attention in the region, and not as much as it should further afield. The lack of replenishing sediment (caused by modern river management practices upstream of the delta region) means that this natural wonder is eroding fast. Not only does this mean the destruction of some amazing wetlands, it also increases hurricane flood risk in the region. Save for some badly needed coastal restoration projects, these aerial shots I have may have some historic value in the future: the current condition of the swamps and bayous are likely to be something of a snapshot in time.