Lake Pontchartrain provides a good environment for many plants, animals and marine life for both saltwater and fresh water. Right now the biggest issue for the lake is saltwater intrusion. This is mostly caused by the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, which is killing some of the freshwater plants and animals in the lake.
The citizens of the Pontchartrain Basin have been trying to bring back wildlife not only in the water, but also in the air. For a while brown pelicans were almost extinct because a chemical being used to protect plants. When it would rain, nutrients and fertilizers would wash into the lake and make the water cloudy, which blocked sunlight. Fish ate or absorbed these chemicals through their skin and by eating food that the chemical had entered. The pelicans ate the fish, which killed the pelicans because of the chemical in the fish's bodies. We did our best to restore the pelicans and now they can be seen everywhere. If we do this for all the species we might be able to recover other animals that are close to extinction.
In our effort to bring more wildlife back to the lake, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation has built artificial reefs after years of planning. Private organizations and environmental groups that are trying to make a better lake have worked together on the reef. The Lake Pontchartrain Artificial Reef Working Group was established in June, 2000. The reef is expected to attract a large variety of recreational fish. These limestone reefs are made over a two-acre area, a short distance from the Seabrook Bridge Boat Launch and the South Shore Harbor. In the future they are planning to make other artificial reefs where there were oil and gas rig sites. These were located west of the Causeway Bridge in Jefferson Parish.
In Lake Pontchartrain there are over 125 species of fish. Out of all the fish, the most abundant species of fish is the anchovy. Even manatee and porpoise have been sited in the lake, but the porpoise die because of a bacterium that they get when swimming in the lake. Many sharks have been seen in the lake. A local resident, Connie Glockner, even saw a shark dancing on its tail. Once when she was crabbing in thigh deep water, she realized sharks that were schooling to feed, surrounded her.
In the Lake Pontchartrain Basin there is a huge variety of marine, land and bird life. It includes animals from swallows to wild boar. (To see a list of all the animals, fish and birds go to the bottom of the page for the links)
The Basin provides a habitat for a large variety of birds in Louisiana. Fifty percent of all North American migratory birds pass through Southeast Louisiana, yet vehicles kill twelve thousand a year. Twice a year there are an estimated eight million Purple Martins migrating through Southeast Louisiana. Project Swallow's purpose is to build 6.7 kilometers of fencing at both ends of the Causeway, a twenty-four mile bridge across Lake Pontchartrain, to keep the birds protected from vehicles.
Another project going on is the building of many bluebird houses in the area to encourage them to nest in the Basin area.
ANIMALS IN THE BASIN