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U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
National Wetlands Research Center
700 Cajundome Blvd.
Lafayette, LA 70506

Contact: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Phone: 337-266-8655
Fax: 337-266-8541
For Release: September 19, 2004



Hurricane Ivan Damages Barrier Islands

(Note to Editors: Images available; www.nwrc.usgs.gov/hurricane/postivanphotos.htm)

Aircraft surveys of the Gulf Coast reveal that mainland damage may have been worse had barrier islands not reduced some of the impacts of Hurricane Ivan. Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wetlands Research Center used experimental remote sensing techniques and digital photography to gather images as they flew the coast Friday and Saturday (Sept. 17 and 18) from the Chandeleur Islands off Louisiana to Panama City, Fla.

The Chandeleur Islands, a chain of barrier islands just south of New Orleans, suffered extensive damage, reminiscent of damage caused by Hurricane Georges in 1998. As of Saturday, much of the chain was underwater, and the Curlew and Gosier Islands (originally two islands of the chain but cut into four by previous hurricanes) have completely disappeared under Gulf waters.

The Chandeleur Islands are important because they protect the mainland of Louisiana from storms and are valuable for commercial and recreation fishing. They are also one of the four Gulf of Mexico wintering grounds for migratory redhead ducks, which feed on the islands' seagrass beds.

For comparison pictures of the Chandeleur Islands and other coastal features, see http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/hurricane/ivan/postivanphotos.htm.This site will be periodically updated for the public, resource managers, researchers and emergency personnel as video and still photography are made available. For additional Hurricane Ivan information, including videos of Ivan’s impacts and an index of prehurricane aerial photographs, see http://www.nwrc.usgs.gov/hurricane/ivan/ivan.htm.

Images at the Web site will include barrier island and coastal areas associated with the Chandeleur Islands off Louisiana; Cat, Ship, Horn and Petit Bois Islands off Mississippi; Dauphin Island, Gulf Shores and Perdido Key off Alabama; and Santa Rosa Island to the shoreline areas of Destin to Panama City, Fla.

Researchers are studying hurricane impacts and wetland damage, particularly in the National Park Service's Gulf Islands National Seashore Park and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Breton and Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuges.

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