Bayou Life and Memories
Slowly Sinking Into the Abyss
They’re sinking– their way of bayou life literally
collapsing under the water.
Vanishing Island is a short documentary profiling the residents of the Isle de Jean Charles, as they confront a future threatened by sinking shorelines and rising seas.
Known locally in Louisiana French as Isle à Jean Charles, the place is a narrow ridge of land between Bayou Terrebonne and Bayou Pointe-au-Chien in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.
It was once home to many members of the Biloxi-Chitimacha tribe and the community of Houma people. Currently, however, the island’s population has dwindled— shrinking from about 250 families to about 25 households due to the constant flooding, hurricanes, and rising sea levels taking its wearisome toll on the
land and people.
The isle has been affected by the induced and natural subsiding of the land in South Louisiana. Some blame natural conditions, others the oil pipeline.
Whatever the case, they all agree Isle de Jean Charles is gradually disappearing into the mud-choked channels of Terrebonne Bay.
The island unfortunately lies past the 72-mile authorized levee alignment
holding back the rest of the rising water. No hope lingers in sight for those
families who choose to remain– or those having nowhere to go.
They and their land will soon be lost forever; vanished and vanquished.
The trees that used to be abundant in the area are long since gone, succumbing to the rising waters drowning their roots and a distant memory for the children who used to play in them years ago.
Film director Benh Zeitlin has said in interviews that Isle de Jean Charles was the geographical inspiration for the strikingly stark setting of his Oscar-nominated move ”The Bathtub”, the fictional mysterious bayou island depicted in Beasts of the Southern Wild.