“Please keep me anonymous”
This post was written by Amanda Moore, NWF’s Coastal Louisiana Organizer in New Orleans.
I never get used to the “Please keep me anonymous,” sign-off on emails from my fisherman friend who, since the oil spill, works for BP 7 days a week. Having worked on coastal restoration with fishing communities along the Louisiana coast prior to the oil disaster, I have gained a level of trust with people who now offer me their confidential stories and photos of the areas they love. It is a heartbreaking experience to receive their images from the field – photos of fragile and beautiful places that we’d been working together to restore prior to the oil spill.
The roots of fishermen run deep in the Mississippi Delta. Some of their families have been making their living off the wetlands for centuries and their love and respect for the ecosystem is great. So, although we see distressing images from the Gulf coast in the media and sometimes from our own camera lens, it is an entirely different experience to get the pictures from the people who are watching their livelihoods, their passion, and their heritage slip away. This is compounded by the fact that they take these pictures discretely because they now work to clean up the oil for BP and fear they’ll lose their jobs – the only source of income they foresee for a long time – for being too vocal.
I receive the images and the stories with a great sense of responsibility. I am proud that, as part of the NWF team, I can survey and report the sites that once teamed with bright pink roseate spoonbills, brown pelicans, and great white egrets. I can make sure my friend’s story is heard.