After Katrina

Amos Lassen

After having been in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, I was anxious to see this documentary and the title made this sound like a very interesting subject for a documentary. I was curious about whether the rodents here were the large rats that live in the warehouses along the Mississippi River and was surprised to see that the film is actually about the large region south of New Orleans that survived hurricane Katrina but is now facing the threat of monstrous twenty-pound rodents known as the nutria. Louisiana’s coastal wetlands are one of the largest disappearing landmasses in the world and these curious and unexpected invasive species from South America are accelerating coastal erosion and this makes the region vulnerable to hurricanes.  “As the coastline disappears, so do the hunters and trappers, fishermen and shrimpers, storytellers and musicians” that make Louisiana special are leaving in large numbers. There are, however, those who are fighting back. One of those fighters is Thomas Gonzalez who together with his community of Delacroix Island, are resisting the invasion of the rodents.

The state of Louisiana has inaugurated a program that pays a $5 bounty for every nutria tail collected and this has helped a bit. There have been other plans such as harvesting nutria for their fur and meat in the hope that by creating a demand for the nutria, they could help protect the wetlands and fight back the rodents.

An interesting aspect of all of this is that even though nutria have caused great problems, they have also been part of Louisiana culture. The stories here are unexpected and seemingly far away from what we might expect yet taking the documentary as a whole, we see something about “coastal erosion, the devastation following hurricanes, loss of culture and homeland, and the resilience of the human spirit.” Below is the address of the website where you can get more information.

http://www.rodentsofunusualsiz e.tv