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Cocodrie, Louisiana, USA

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The town of Cocodrie (derived from the French for 'crocodile') lies within Terrebonne Parish1, Louisiana (made famous by Alan Moore's sequential art as the home of the Swamp Thing).

Cocodrie is south of Houma at the end of Louisiana State Road 56, as close as that road dares approach the swampy Gulf of Mexico coast. It's too small to have its own United States Census figures2; its population can be estimated at 300 or less. The town is several blocks long, but only two blocks wide.

All buildings in Cocodrie are built on pilings one storey above the ground, to avoid flooding from storm surges.

The Louisiana Gulf Coastline

Near the mouth of the Mississippi River, there are several 'distributaries', alternative paths for water to flow to the sea. The French colonists of Louisiana coined the term bayeaux for these, from which comes the quasi-English word 'bayou'. The larger ones are navigable by any regular river boat.

For centuries, the inhabitants of Louisiana have added to the natural coastline by creating their own navigation channels. Some are shortcuts from the Mississippi River to the sea, others just enhance the access inland.

As a result, the coastline of Louisiana is much like a fractal. There is no single discernible boundary to it; one can penetrate for scores of miles inland via bayous and other navigation channels, if one's boat is small enough. The inhabitants of Cocodrie are masterful small boatmen.

But there is a drawback to the enhanced navigation. Whenever a storm hits Louisiana, some coastline washes away due to coastal erosion. Extra silt used to flow down the Mississippi River and the bayous, and more or less replaced any land that washed away. But navigation requires silt-free channels, which prevents silt from moving downriver. Except for the bit of Louisiana at the very mouth of the Mississippi (where they can't quite keep the silt from flowing), the coastline is eroding and not being replaced.

Things to Do in Cocodrie

  • Work at a natural gas drilling plant - The Louisiana coast is a major centre for off-shore drilling. Cocodrie has a refinery set up on a nearby island.

  • Fish to live - The Louisiana coast is a major habitat for all manner of edible seafood, particularly for shrimp, oysters, soft shell crabs, and blue fin. Of the top ten United States fishing ports as reckoned annually, seven are often in Louisiana.

  • Fish for fun - Cocodrie and other nearby towns import recreational fishermen, to such an extent that they've started to interfere with the catches of the professional fishermen. Fishing boats are available for charter.

  • Figure out what's happening to the coastline - The Louisiana University Marine Consortium (LUMCON for short) has its primary station in Cocodrie to monitor coastline drift and do other marine research. They have some aquariums and marine exhibits, and an observation tower six storeys above ground. It provides a panoramic view, and is well worth the climb. Admission is free. (Maritime data in this entry is courtesy of LUMCON.)

Visiting Cocodrie

Cocodrie has three small motels and restaurants, two of which have marinas attached. These are open year round. Prices are typically US$40 for a room, $5-$15 for a meal (exclusive of beverage). Most visitors, however, come often enough to maintain their own homes there.

1In Louisiana, a parish is the equivalent of a county in other states of the USA.2Cocodrie is officially part of the town of Chauvin, population 3,375 as of the 1990 census.

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