By Frank Rizal
With its barriers, islands, peninsulas, marshes and inlets, the Gulf Coast of the United States is known for its rich ecosystem and vast wildlife inhabiting the Gulf Coastal Plain. The region attracts many tourists who sightsee and fish along the marshlands in Louisiana, and enjoy the white sands spending their summers across the Panhandle of Florida and the barrier islands called the Emerald Coast. While experiencing the natural surroundings of the Gulf Coast, tourists can see the historical significance of the cultural heritage of the Creek Indians, French and Spanish influences that coalesced to create a unique southern gulf culture along the five states that make up the southern coast of the U.S. Indeed, tourism is a major factor in the Gulf Coast's economy, along with the fishing and shrimping industries so interconnected with the heritage along the Gulf. Yet, it only takes one disaster to turn this major tourist area that brimmed with natural beauty, vibrant culture, and contributed to a major part of the economy, into a desolate dead sea.