Located between the Mississippi River and Bayou Lafourche, Barataria Bay is finding itself slowly slipping away without a plan in place to stop this from happening. This bay is an area with marshes, swamps, and islands that are slowly sinking away under the sea. This area has changed more significantly in recent times than any other coastal line in the United States.
One estimate shows that Barataria Bay lost 430 square miles thus far between the years 1932 and 2016. That’s losing the size of the city of Los Angeles over a less than 100 year period. Scientists cite that natural and human-caused situations have created this issue. There’s a lot of young mud that has settled in around the bay causing the land to be easily eroded with the moving waters.
Some of the cause for this loss of the bay is the result of building levees and canals to try to limit flooding. This interrupts the natural process of how the mud and water work together to create and keep Barataria Bay from slipping away into the sea. The levees and canals starve the bay of receiving new sediment which helps strengthen the bay against the seawater rolling in and out.
The sediment that was added naturally used to equate to the size of Vermont, but due to human-made contraptions to reduce the risk of flooding this natural process has been slowed down, if not nearly eliminated over time. This means that Barataria Bay receives little to no new sediment and is unable to maintain the landmass.
Thermal expansion of the ocean and melting ice have caused an increase in water levels and water temperatures that are helping to destroy Barataria Bay, too. The accelerated land loss due to these global warming changes has caused Barataria Bay to lose 20-30 percent of its landmass.
It seems humans didn’t get the memo about how they’re impacting the loss of land and they seem to not notice the sea creeping in because they’re still building levees, beaches, and marshes around the area to live near Barataria Bay. This just goes to show that many humans don’t evaluate their choices based on what’s best for their region.
If the human beings in this area would take some time to develop a plan to protect Barataria Bay they might be able to make some adjustments to better protect this bay from eroding completely. We will keep an eye on Barataria Bay and keep you posted on the updates as time moves forward.