As Americans unite against the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, it is sometimes a comfort to remember past adversities we have endured. The Gulf Coast—its people and its birds—is no stranger to crisis, as we are reminded this month on the 10-year memorial of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Recently, Audubon Mississippi’s Pascagoula River Audubon Center was a centerpiece of resilience and hope to mark this milestone and honor those who lost their lives in the tragedy.
Ten years ago, Audubon quickly answered the call to help birds and communities recover by establishing an all-volunteer led response center in Moss Point located a few miles from our nature center. Since then, our Gulf Coast presence has grown to include a fully staffed Coastal Bird Stewardship Program, as well as strategic advocacy to secure funding to restore Mississippi’s coastal bird populations and the habitats they rely on.
Commemorative events kicked off March 12 at the Center on an idyllic spring evening for the ribbon cutting of a new native plant nursery and the unveiling of a nature sculpture courtesy of the acclaimed Walter Anderson Museum of Art.
Local and regional media, Audubon members, and community partners enjoyed a briefing by Audubon Mississippi science and policy experts about how our restoration efforts are benefitting impacted birds and their habitats, and how our partnerships with local communities, schools, and others are building a more resilient coast.
The memorial concluded with a spirited ‘Boil on the Bayou’ with music, crawfish, and boat rides on the nationally renowned Pascagoula River.
Today, Audubon is local everywhere across the Gulf, including coastal Mississippi where our monitoring and stewardship efforts support countless bird species, including some of our nation’s largest Least Tern colonies. These intrepid little birds have weathered not just the BP oil disaster, but stronger and more frequent hurricanes as well as many other threats to their survival.
It’s in these birds and their resilience that we find hope for the Gulf’s future. Now more than ever, Audubon will continue working to protect these birds and the places they need.
Please note the Pascagoula River Audubon Center is currently closed. We look forward to welcoming visitors as soon as it is safe to do so. You can visit https://pascagoula.audubon.org/ for updates.