A significant aspect of the deltaic habitats is the salinity gradient that exists between the river and the sea. Fresh water marshes yield to salt marshes over many miles, providing a range of habitats that supports the region's biodiversity.
In the State Arboretum, near Lafayette, Laura inspects skink eggs in a freshwater marsh. We also saw upland forests in this wonderful preserve.
Cypress is one of the hallmark species of the area. Many old growth stands of cypress have been lost, and with them species dependant on this habitat, most notably the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, once a hallmark species in the area.
A swamp tour from Houma took us from fresh into brackish marsh. During the tour, we met a fisherman who had caught a saltwater fish (redfish) in an area that had been a pasture during the memory of our guide...startling testimony to the related problems of subsidence and saltwater incursion in the area.
We had a chance to see the Gulf of Mexico from Grand Island, one of Louisiana's barrier islands. The water was chocolate colored from suspended sediment. We could count over a dozen off shore oil rigs on the horizon, testifying to the economic importance of this area.