Interviewee: Edmond Boudreaux, Jr.

Role: Historian

Date of Interview: 10/28/11 and 11/04/11

Collection: Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster Oral History Project

Click on the link below to play the audio clip from the interviewee.

Abstract: Edmond Boudreaux is an historian living on the Mississippi Sound, whose parents worked in the seafood industry. He talks about man's effects on the health of the Mississippi Sound, which is a nursery for seafood, including restoration of barrier islands, prohibiting dumping of pollutants into the sound, and monitoring the health of oysters in the sound.


We got to look way, way back. When you think about it, the pristine sound that the Indians were in and that the French came into the area, was affected by nothing, basically, other than any human intervention at the time. And the islands were very elongated, so there was a lot more of the barrier islands, more to them, I guess you could say; not more islands, but more to them. One of the examples is in, I think it was 1722 or so, Petit Bois Island was created when one of the storms came through. It might have been 1719 that it was created, and it was part of Dauphine Island. So that cut a big gap. Ship Island was gapped by [Hurricane] Camille, and you had the Camille Cut on it. And all of them have been battered by storms over the centuries. We even had the Dog Keys, where you had Dog Island, that basically disappeared. One time, they put a casino on it and referred to it as the Isle of Capri. So that was where Dog Island was, here when the French arrived; gone around 1949. It went under the waves for the last time. And keys are shifting sands. And we don't see as many of those shifting islands that would shift in and out, which shows a lot of disintegration of the islands, which I don't know if I said it on the last interview, but it's very important, I think, that they're now talking about renewing those islands because we may see some of these keys, like Handkerchief Shoal and Dog Keys, start coming back somewhat, if the islands were restored somewhere to their pre-French-arrival period, which would be great. I don't know if they're going to go to that extent. The other thing is the organic effect on the Mississippi Sound. And its health has been affected by man throughout the years. Originally, it was thought that if we dumped sewage into the water, that the water would cleanse itself. Of course, hindsight is better than anything, but we now know that that's not true, so that has been pretty much corrected everywhere where I – and I'm not to say that somebody isn't still doing it, but they pretty well monitor that and try and keep that under control, and that does help things, especially with things like the oyster here because the health of the oyster is determined by what impurities do enter into it, since it's probably one of our most sensitive shellfish, or even any type of life that's in the Mississippi Sound. The Mississippi Sound, being a nursery, also affects how any deterioration of that ecosystem hurts it, in particular, in recent times, the BP [British Petroleum] oil spill. I think it can recover itself, but I think we're going to see things that affect it for a long period of time.

To listen to Edmond's interview, click here.