Showing posts with label Assateague beach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Assateague beach. Show all posts

Monday, February 27, 2012

2012 'Spring Pony Roundup' On Assateague

The Spring Pony Roundup will take place April 13 & 14, 2012.

The Chincoteague Ponies will be rounded up on Assateague Island to be seen by veterinarians.

2011 Pony Spring Roundup
 During the 'Spring Pony Roundup' the southern pony herd will be visible to the public in the southern corral, which is just off the main road that goes out to the beach. The South herd roundup will take place Friday April 13, 2012 at 4pm.

The North herd roundup will take place Saturday April 14, 2012 at 10am.

For more info go to

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mysterious Gray Blobs Left Behind By Hurricane Irene

If you've spent alot of time on the local beach and have been paying attention to what is on the sand - or maybe even floating in the water- you have seen these.  I've seen them in the past up and down the beach after a hurricane or nor'easter.  The objects that don't find their way back out into the ocean dry on the beach and when dry become stone-like..  In fact, if I searched long enough through shells and stones gathered long ago by my now adult children I'm sure I could find some. 

Depends on where your mind is at the time if you think they look like human body waste and smell like it too.  Most people that have been doing the "beach thing" for many years think they look like something natural that washed in from the ocean and they smell like marsh.

If you want to think they smell like p***, go ahead. 

Most of Hurricane Irene’s impacts—heavy rain, high winds, downed trees, coastal erosion, and storm-tide flooding—are all too familiar to the storm-weary residents of Chesapeake Bay and the Eastern seaboard.
But based on post-storm queries to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, one impact remains a mystery—what are all those “gray blobs” floating atop waterways and strewn along beaches?

Blob reports and queries have been streaming into VIMS since Irene passed by on the last weekend of August. The blobs—encountered by boaters and beachgoers in Hampton Roads, Mobjack Bay, the Poquoson River, the York River, and as far away as Long Island—have been described as being of “various sizes,” with the smallest “around the size of a baseball.” Reports of their texture range from “kind of rubbery or leathery” to “kind of soft.” They’ve also been described as “ash gray” and “foul smelling." Cathy Hopkins of Hampton reports that they're "pretty gross.”

Theories about what the objects might be are as numerous as the incoming reports: Old crab floats? Sewage? Tar balls? Ambergris from whales? Sea turtles?

VIMS professor Emmett Duffy has a simpler explanation. “They’re potato sponges” says Duffy, a self-professed “friend of the sponges” who is renowned in marine science circles for his discovery of complex, cooperative societies among sponge-dwelling Caribbean shrimp.

Duffy explains that like other sponges, potato sponges make a living by filtering microscopic food from seawater. They draw the water into and through channels in their porous bodies by the beating of countless tiny hairs (flagella) on their cells.

Potato sponges, which comprise a diverse group within the genus Craniella, are normally inconspicuous animals (yes, they are animals) that inhabit shallow coastal habitats around the world, growing to about the size of a soccer ball. They look like, well, potatoes and attach to the seafloor with a network of protein fibers and glassy, needle-like “spicules” that form something like an anchor.

But when weather conditions cause large waves and strong currents to scour the seafloor, they can dislodge large numbers of these sponges, freeing them to float to the surface and wash ashore. Clogged with storm debris and no longer able to filter feed, the sponges die. Then they start to smell as decay and bacteria move in to consume the carbohydrates and collagen that form their body.

Potato sponges are not poisonous—Dr. Duffy even found a recipe for potato sponge cake on the Food Network (but it turned out to require regular potatoes). Nevertheless, VIMS scientists caution area residents to avoid touching them as a precaution, as their glassy spicules can irritate the skin and eyes.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Crews Working To Reopen Assateague

Parking Lot/February 2010

ASSATEAGUE -- Officials at Assateague Island National Seashore and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge are scrambling to reopen Assateague beach by the holiday weekend after Hurricane Irene destroyed the parking lots, depositing up to 18 inches of sand in some places.

The storm also created a breach at least 100 yards wide just north of the parking area joining Swan's Cove with the Atlantic Ocean.

"None of the damage was minor," said Refuge Manager Lou Hinds, adding "the best-case scenario" is to have 200-300 parking spaces available this weekend.

There are usually 961 parking spaces at the beach.

Hinds said the U.S. Park Service found more damage than was first thought. The latest plan officials are considering is to rebuild whatever spaces can be put in place by the weekend, then stop until spring because the demand for parking goes down after Labor Day and there is "a high probability it would only get washed away" during winter storms, he said.

The beach remained closed to visitors during the last full week of the summer season as workers using heavy equipment attempted to rebuild as many of the parking spaces as possible before Labor Day weekend, when thousands of tourists traditionally flock to the refuge and seashore.

The refuge reopened Tuesday under a temporary arrangement that includes opening a lifeguard-protected beach two miles north of the current recreational area, which visitors can access by bicycle or on foot.

In recent years the beach parking lots at times were completely full during holiday weekends, with one vehicle being allowed onto the refuge as another left.

"We knew this day would come... It just happened the storm hit the weekend before Labor Day weekend," said Hinds, who in the past has warned local and federal officials of the need for a backup plan in case a storm wiped out beach parking during the tourist season.

The remnants of Hurricane Ida last year also destroyed the parking lots, but workers had time to rebuild them before the next summer, at a cost of $450,000.

Hinds accompanied Chincoteague Mayor Jack Tarr, Accomack County Supervisor Wanda Thornton and other Chincoteague officials on a tour to inspect the damage, as well as to see the northern beach, which he proposed to open as a temporary solution to provide beach access to visitors this week.

That area, including plans for up to 8.5 acres of parking, is also proposed as the permanent site for the recreational beach in the future in two of four alternatives listed in the refuge's Comprehensive Conservation Plan. The plan was unveiled at recent open houses at Assateague Beach and the Chincoteague Center and was the subject of two public input meetings in Melfa and Pocomoke City.

Thornton kept an upbeat attitude after viewing the damage, saying, "It isn't as bad as I anticipated -- I've seen it a whole lot worse."

She predicted the breach at Swan's Cove will fill in over time.

Thornton also said Labor Day is traditionally not as busy for the seashore as other holidays like July Fourth.

Donna Mason, owner of Waterside Inn, said while she had some cancellations from guests affected in their home areas by Irene, bookings were holding steady for the weekend.

"We're hoping for a good weekend," she said. "Just tell them Chincoteague is open for business."

The northern beach, accessible from the Swan's Cove Trail off the Wildlife Loop, will have lifeguards on duty from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., but it will have very limited facilities.

Refuge officials encourage visitors to bicycle to the refuge due to the lack of available parking.

Vehicles may enter the refuge, but can go only as far as the Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center. Limited parking is available there, as well as at the lighthouse, which will be open normal hours, and at the wildlife loop.

In addition to destroying the parking lots, Irene left groups of Chincoteague ponies freely roaming the beach road and the Bateman Center parking lot after gates were opened ahead of the storm's arrival to allow the ponies to seek higher ground. The ponies are usually kept away from areas frequented by people.

Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company's Saltwater Cowboys at some point will round up the ponies, for the second time this summer, and return them to their customary grazing grounds. But refuge officials did not put a timetable on that effort, saying they are sensitive to the extra work volunteer fire and rescue personnel put in before, during and after the storm.

In the meantime, drivers should proceed cautiously to avoid harming ponies they encounter in the road or parking lots. Visitors should not approach the wild ponies.

Entrance fees to the refuge were waived this week during the recovery effort. The refuge is open during reduced daylight hours, 7 a.m.-8 p.m., with tentative plans to resume normal hours Friday.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Regulations Regarding Wild Horses On Assateague

BERLIN--Assateague Island National Seashore officials announced two new regulations to reduce harmful interactions between the public and the park’s wild horses.

One new rule prohibits park visitors from getting within 10 feet of any wild horse. The second regulation requires campers to secure any unattended food in hard sided, lockable storage (such as a vehicle) when not being used.

“We’re really hoping that visitors will take this issue seriously and help us reduce the frequency of inappropriate interactions with the horses,” Park Superintendent Trish Kicklighter said.

Officials say the new initiatives are designed to keep the park’s visitors--some of whom are bitten or kicked by its horses each year-- and its horses--who have been hit by cars as they stand by roads looking for handouts--safe.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Body Found On Assateague Identified.

The Maryland Medical Examiner has positively identified a body that was found at Assateague National Seashore last November as 36 year old Jung Han Lee of Silver Spring, Maryland. In late October, Dewey Beach Police found numerous personal items belonging to Lee on the beach, but an extensive search turned up no sign of the man. Lee was identified through a DNA sample and the ME says there was no sign of foul play.

Date & Time: November 6, 2010 @ 3:08 pm
Case #: 10-240
Location Occurred: Assateague National Seashore
Victim: Jung Han Lee Korean Male, 36 years of age Silver Spring, MD


Through investigation of the unidentified body that washed up on Assateague National Seashore, it was learned that the Dewey Beach Police Department was investigating a missing person. Several personal items were left on the beach belonging to Lee and family members had not heard from Lee in several days.

Lee had been under mental duress for several years due to being unemployed. The items left on the beach were forwarded to the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation. During an examination of the body at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore, MD, no signs of foul play were noted.

Contact was made with family members who reside in Silver Spring, Maryland and an interview was held in December with those members. A DNA sample was obtained from Lee’s mother for comparison with the remains.

After comparison and analysis by a Virginia forensic lab, it was determined that the two samples matched. Investigators were able to positively identify the remains as those of Jung Han Lee. Family members were notified on February 11, 2011 which brings closure to this case.

The Dewey Beach Police Department closed their missing person investigation after receiving positive identification through DNA of Lee. Any further questions can be referred to the Dewey Beach Police Department at (302) 227-6363.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Fee Increases To Get On Beach

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the daily entrance fee to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge will increase from $5 to $8 on July 1. The price of the weekly, refuge annual, interagency annual and senior passes will not change. All passes are accepted at both ends of Assateague Island.

The additional revenue will be used to offset the maintenance costs of beach parking facilities and safety services on the Virginia end of Assateague Island National Seashore, as well as additional costs of visitor service projects.

Eighty percent of all money collected from the passes with the exception of the Federal Duck Stamp remains at the refuge to be used for visitor services and facility improvements. In 2009, the refuge utilized recreation fee dollars for repairs on the historic Assateague Lighthouse, annual maintenance of roads, trails, beach parking lots, visitor safety services (lifeguards), fee collection, and law enforcement support. These are some of the many projects that your fee dollars have provided.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Beach Parking On Assateague Island Is Ready-- Get There Early

I posted an article some weeks back with pictures of what Assateague beach looked like after suffering through the storms of winter. Here are some of the photos again to prove that what the officials are saying is true. I'm sure the National Park Service has worked very hard to restore the beach. Unfortunately, there is only so much that can be done. After all, it still belongs to Mother Nature.................... Oh, please be thankful there is a parking lot. When I was there to take these pictures the parking lot was no longer there.

This is what they are speaking about when they say the "cable and wellhead have been unearthed by the surf". This cable is probably from a building that once stood on the parking lot side.

Article from the Eastern Shore News......

ASSATEAGUE -- Since the beach parking lot was laid to waste by the remnants of Hurricane Ida last November, the National Park Service has been working to restore parking spaces for beachgoers. Despite several setbacks during strong winter storms, the crews have been able to bring back all 961 parking spaces in time for Memorial Day weekend -- the unofficial start of summer beach season.Still, officials say the $600,000 project is not a longterm solution, and officials are wary of expected higher-than-normal tides this week.

"Our land base is shrinking because of sea level rise and the accompanying strong storms," said Refuge Manager Lou Hinds. "These are all naturally occurring reasons and there's nothing the American public or government agencies can do."<>

Hinds said that 115 yards of beach have been lost since 1962. Vestiges of former parking lots attest to this: cables and a wellhead have been unearthed by the surf, and farther back from the ocean, concrete fragments intermingle with the sand.

While the continued erosion will leave no land for parking in the future, Hinds has even more imminent concerns. This week's spring tide means tides will be at their highest.

"If we get a strong easterly wind ... there is a fear that the parking lots would get washed out again," leaving no parking for Memorial Day weekend visitors, said Hinds.

While the Park Service is moving sand to buffer the new lots, long-term plans are in the works.

A long-term study being conducted by Accomack County, the town of Chincoteague, the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service has identified four equally preferred alternatives including retaining all beach parking or moving some or all parking to Chincoteague and using a shuttle for beachgoers.<>

Regardless of which alternative plan is chosen, $900,000 will be spent to improve bike trail safety and install a transportation system to and from the beach, Hinds said.

Controversy arose when the alternative plans were made public in April, and Hinds said he's heard from groups that support myriad uses for the beach, ranging from a nude beach to allowing no public use of the shoreline.

The public will be invited to give its input before decision-making begins in the late summer or early fall.

Hinds said the decision will consider wildlife first, "because that's what the refuge is here for." Sea level rise and climate change will also be "weighed very heavily," he said.

"There is no plan in place at this time, should the parking lots get washed away, to shuttle people out to the beach," Hinds said.

"My fear is that the economy of the town of Chincoteague is tied ... to the recreational beach and people's ability to reach the beach."

How long the new parking lots will last is at the mercy of Mother Nature.

"It's on a wing and a prayer," said Hinds.