Monday, September 12, 2011
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.
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
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
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.
Monday, November 8, 2010
As the associations of Maryland sheriffs and chiefs of police meet for a joint training conference in the resort next week, about 150 of them from 88 police agencies will spend Tuesday afternoon running and diving into the cold ocean water.
Though they'll be more than four miles north of the Boardwalk, the event will be known as the Chiefs & Sheriffs Boardwalk Plunge. Only members of law enforcement are eligible to participate. Each swimmer has to raise at least $50 to enter.
So far, police have raised about $14,000 with pre-registrations. Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino so far is in the Top 5 among all fundraising participants.
"I'm excited about it," she said. "I'm hoping the water's going to warm up a little bit. It's going to be kind of cool to be doing it in Ocean City."
Next week, the ocean temperature will be about 56 to 58 degrees, as long as there isn't a cold snap, according to Lee Gerachis, owner of Malibu's Surf Shop.
Several other chiefs also will participate, including Chief Michael Tabor of the Crisfield police and Chief Scott Keller of the Princess Anne police.
Keller said the annual police chiefs conference brings viewpoints of police all over the state and makes for great interaction among his peers for networking and training.
"It's close to here, so we don't have to drive all the way up to Sandy Point for that other one," said Keller, who also will be joined by his second-in-command, Capt. Warren Gadomski. "We got our bathing suits ready. It might be a little colder than we're used to."
Keller was referring to the Polar Bear Plunge held annually at Sandy Point State Park, in the shadow of the Chesapeake Bay bridge, an event hosted annually by Maryland State Police as a fundraiser for Special Olympics of Maryland.
Jumping into the Atlantic Ocean for charity isn't new to Ocean City. The annual Penguin Swim to benefit Atlantic General Hospital will celebrate its 17th year on New Year's Day.
All the police Special Olympics fundraisers fall under the umbrella of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, the signature fundraiser for cops and Special Olympics worldwide.
Howard County Police Lt. John Newnan, who is chairman of Maryland's Torch Run, said the state of Maryland raises the most money worldwide for Special Olympics and that Maryland cops raised $4.1 million in the 2009-10 fundraising year, which ended in September.
"It's a pretty amazing movement, and we're all dedicated to it in our communities," he said.
Not every conference attendee will be braving the icy shorebreak on Tuesday.
"It's too damn cold," said Somerset County Sheriff Bobby Jones. "I might watch it from a balcony window. I got nothing against people who want to jump into the ocean in November, but I'm not going to do it."
Visit www.boardwalk plunge.com.If you go
WHAT. Inaugural Maryland Chiefs & Sheriffs Boardwalk Plunge
WHERE. Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel, 10100 Coastal Highway, Ocean City
WHEN. 4:30 p.m. Tuesday
INFO. www.boardwalk plunge.com; 410-789-6677, ext. 103
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The study by Oceana, an environmental group focused on oceanic issues, predicts winds along the East Coast have the potential to deliver 30 percent more electricity than "economically recoverable" offshore oil and gas in the same region.
The study also estimates that the emerging offshore wind industry would create between 133,000 and 212,000 jobs annually in the U.S. -- more than three times the estimated future job creation through expanded offshore oil and gas drilling.
The authors of "Untapped Wealth: The Potential of Offshore Energy to Deliver Clean, Affordable Energy and Jobs" said they studied potential offshore wind tracts 3 to 24 miles off the East Coast in depths of 30 meters (98 feet) or fewer and used conservative estimates to arrive at their conclusions.
Many of the assumptions, such as job generation, are based on experience in Europe, which has a far-advanced offshore wind industry.
The U.S. has approved only one offshore wind farm, off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
"The technology exists. We just need to have the will to do it," said Simon Mahan, one of the Oceana study authors and is now with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
Among the study's other findings:
-- Delaware, Massachusetts and North Carolina could exceed all their current energy needs through offshore winds, while New Jersey, Virginia and South Carolina could achieve 64 percent or more of their energy needs.
Much of a state's ability to generate offshore winds hinges on its location and length of its coastline. Georgia, for instance, is located farther south, which has lighter winds, and a smaller coastline. Its potential for offshore energy is in the single digits.
-- U.S. offshore wind generation capacity on the Atlantic Coast is at least 127 gigawatts. That is approximately equal to European projections for offshore wind energy on that continent in less than 20 years.
More than 24,000 wind turbines would have to be scattered in East Coast waters to achieve that level of generation.
East Coast states have been giving offshore winds a closer look following the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. President Barack Obama suspended planned exploratory gas and oil drilling off Virginia's coast shortly after the April spill. The state was first in line to begin drilling.
The U.S. Department of the Interior has reached agreement with 10 East Coast governors to work together to develop windmills in the Atlantic.
The jobs would be created for a nearly nonexistent U.S. industry to fabricate giant turbines, as well as ships needed to build and service them and related industries.
Oceana also recommended the elimination of federal subsidies for fossil fuels; a permanent ban on new oil and gas development in the Atlantic; and other measures to encourage offshore wind development.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
"I've broken my wrist, and I've broken all my fingers and toes four or five times," says Kauchak. "This was, by far, the worst pain I've ever felt in my life."
The shark bit the Tallwood High School graduate twice in his left leg, grabbing Kauchak around the ankle, then the knee. Just before that, it had gotten its teeth into Christopher's board shorts.
"I felt something bump my leg, and I wasn't sure what it was at first, so I didn't move," Christopher tells 13News. "Then, it came back for a second shot, and I just swung down and hit it."
"When he grabbed my knee, I thought, 'Well, maybe if my board -- hopefully, I can get out of this, because, if not, I'm going right back under," says Kauchak who hopped on his surfboard. "I didn't turn around to look. I just went straight for the shore. That's the first thing I did."
Christopher was with him. The two got back to land where a friend of theirs was waiting.
"I stayed there and held pressure on his knee until the firefighters go there, 'cause I'm actually going to school for stuff like this, so it was kind of interesting. It kind of helped me out, learned some stuff at the same time," Christopher says. "Didn't really do anything else but hold there, because that was all I knew to do. That's all they taught us so far."
Paramedics arrived just after getting the call about the attack, which came at about 4:00 p.m. They took Kauchak to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital.
"We've had no shark sightings or any problems with sharks or anything all this season," Chief Bruce Nedelka with Virginia Beach Department of Emergency Medical Services explains. "This is very unique, very rare for us."
Friday, September 24, 2010
The fee waiver applies at both the Maryland and Virginia districts of the National Seashore.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the National Seashore at a great time of the year," said Kicklighter. "Fall flowers are blooming, the weather is perfect, and the island is less crowded than during the busy summer season."
National Public Lands Day is an annual event celebrating service and recreation at more than 1,600 parks, refuges, and other public lands throughout the nation. Visitors to Assateague and other areas are encouraged to help out during their stay by volunteering in public service projects. Stop by the Maryland District Ranger Station to see how you can participate.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
There was Warrior, who was recovering from a skull fracture; Surf City II, who had a bad experience with fishing gear; Tripod, who was missing a flipper; and two other sea turtles that also had finished their treatment at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.
But there was something unusual about this year's annual late-summer release from the Topsail Beach-based facility.
All five of the turtles being returned to the Atlantic on Tuesday afternoon were Kemp's ridleys.
"It's like this is the year of the Kemps," said team leader Karen Sota, noting that the hospital has seen more Kemp's ridley turtles this year than loggerheads and green turtles combined. "And we really don't know why."
They are considered the most endangered sea turtle in the world, are exceedingly rare visitors on North Carolina beaches and receive strict protection under both federal and state law.
Yet Kemp's ridley turtles have been showing up this year in increasing numbers in North Carolina's coastal waters and in fishermen's nets.
The result has been a surge of juvenile Kemp's ridleys finding their way to the sea turtle hospital suffering from an assortment of ailments and a potentially growing headache for state fisheries officials, who are struggling with how to keep fishermen fishing while staying in compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act.
That sea turtles and fishermen sometimes run into conflict while sharing the same bodies of water isn't unusual.
"The problem is we haven't seen a lot of Kemps until now," said Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel, noting that historically its been juvenile green turtles getting snared in the gill nets.
Because greens have been the sea turtles caught in the greatest numbers in the past, the federal "take" permit allowing the state's gill net fishermen to interact with the endangered animals allows the most leeway with that species.But this summer, most of the observed incidents have involved Kemp's ridleys.
If that trend continues, it could prove challenging to keep the fishery open for very long especially under the number of Kemp "takes" the division has requested from National Marine Fisheries in its new gill net permit application.
But a study released this summer by the nonpartisan National Research Council found that a lack of solid data on sea turtle numbers can make it difficult for regulators to determine reasonable conservation measures.
There's little chance in the short term of more leeway, however, especially with the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Kemp's nesting beaches in the Gulf still unknown. So state fisheries officials are aggressively looking into ways to develop more turtle-friendly fishing gear and practices.
But no one knows if any innovation will be enough to keep the fisheries open if there is a dramatic increase in the number of Kemp's ridleys foraging in state waters during the warm-water months.
A more basic question is where are the turtles coming from, and why now
According to state records, North Carolina saw zero Kemp's ridley nests last year and only three so far this year.
Biologists said that's normal, since the turtles rarely come ashore here to nest.
So where are all of the juvenile turtles coming from? Are they fleeing the oil spill in the Gulf, or is this just a one-year anomaly, possibly tied to the exceedingly warm ocean temperatures we've seen this year?
Or is it simply the case of the conservation measures that began several decades ago finally bearing fruit?
While she hopes that's the case, sea turtle hospital Director Jean Beasley on Monday cautioned that one good year doesn't make a trend especially with a population so fragile as the Kemp's ridleys.
"But it is a good sign," she said. "Considering where they were, we'll take it."
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
One of the dolphins was a badly decomposed bottlenose dolphin that washed ashore at 15th Bay in Ocean View, according to one of the team members. A necropsy will be performed on the dolphin, but team members say it could be weeks before the results are in.
The other was found in the water by 64th Street at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. Members of the stranding response team are currently on the scene and will bring the body back to the aquarium for a necropsy. Of course, those test results may also take time.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The National Weather Service, meantime, extended its hurricane watch up the coast to include the Virginia Hampton Roads localities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, and Northampton County on the Eastern Shore.
Hyde County emergency officials said the evacuation of Ocracoke Island started at 5 a.m. for about 5,000 visitors. The 800 or so year-round residents don’t have to heed it, but Emergency Services Director Lindsey Mooney said officials hope they’ll follow tourists on the 2½ hour trip to shore.
Hyde spokeswoman Jamie Tunnell said about 30 cars, including trucks pulling campers, were lined up to board ferries that would begin leaving Ocracoke Island on the state's Outer Banks for the 2½-hour trip to shore.
"Ferries are the only way off unless you have a private plane or boat," Tunnell said.
The 800 or so year-round residents don't have to heed it, but Emergency Services Director Lindsey Mooney said officials hope they'll follow tourists and leave the island.
The last time the island was evacuated was in 2005 as Hurricane Ophelia approached, shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.
More evacuations along the Eastern Seaboard could follow, depending on the path taken by the storm, which weakened to a Category 3 hurricane early today as it whipped across the Caribbean with winds of 125 mph.
Earl was expected to remain over the open ocean before turning north and running parallel to the East Coast, bringing high winds and heavy rain to North Carolina’s Outer Banks by late tomorrow or early Friday. From there, forecasters said, it could curve away from the coast somewhat as it makes it way north, perhaps hitting Massachusetts’ Cape Cod and the Maine shoreline on Friday night and Saturday.
Forecasters cautioned that it was still too early to tell how close Earl might come to land. But not since Hurricane Bob in 1991 has such a powerful storm had such a large swath of the East Coast in its sights, said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center.
“A slight shift of that track to the west is going to impact a great deal of real estate with potential hurricane-force winds,” Feltgen said.
Even if Earl stays well offshore, it will kick up rough surf and dangerous rip currents up and down the coast through the Labor Day weekend, a prime time for beach vacations, forecasters said. Virginia’s governor today planned to declare an emergency, a preliminary step needed to muster emergency personnel should Earl hit the state.
The approaching storm troubled many East Coast beach towns that had hoped to capitalize on the BP oil spill and draw visitors who normally vacation on the Gulf Coast.
Yesterday, gusty winds from Earl’s outer fringes whipped palm fronds and whistled through doors in the Turks and Caicos Islands as tied-down boats seesawed on white-crested surf.
Islanders gathered to watch big waves pound a Grand Turk shore as the wind sent sand and salt spray flying.
“We can hear the waves crashing against the reef really seriously,” Kirk Graff, owner of the Captain Kirks Flamingo Cove Marina, said by telephone as he watched the darkening skies. “Anybody who hasn’t secured their boats by now is going to regret it.”
Carl Hanes of Newport News, Va. , kept an eye on the weather report as he headed for the beach near his rented vacation home in Avon, N.C. He, his wife and their two teenage children were anticipating Earl might force them to leave tomorrow, a day ahead of schedule.
“We’re trying not to let it bother us,” Hanes said before enjoying the calm surf.
In Rehoboth Beach, Del., Judy Rice said she has no plans to leave the vacation home where she has spent most of the summer. In fact, the Oak Hill, Va., resident plans to walk around town in the rain if it comes.
“I kind of enjoy it actually. You know, it’s battling the elements,” Rice said. “I have seen the rain go sideways, and, yeah, it can be scary, but I have an old house here in Rehoboth, so it’s probably more important that I am here during a storm than anywhere.”
In the Florida Panhandle, which has struggled all summer to coax back tourists scared away by the Gulf oil spill, bookings were up 12 percent over last year at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. The resort is nowhere near Earl’s projected path, and spokeswoman Laurie Hobbs said she suspects the increase in reservations was partly because of a discount the hotel is offering and partly because of the hurricane.
“Weather drives business,” she said. “They go to where the weather is best.”
If Earl brings rain farther inland, it could affect the U.S. Open tennis tournament, being played now through Sept. 12 in New York City.
“We’re keeping our eye on it very closely,” said United States Tennis Association spokesman Chris Widmaier.
An estimated 5,000 visitors are on the island, which is accessible only by ferry. The evacuation is set for Wednesday morning, The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer reported.
About 800 permanent residents of the island will be permitted to remain, officials said.
Plans also called for closing the Cape Lookout National Seashore at 5 p.m. EDT Wednesday.
Federal Emergency Management Agency head Craig Fugate said Tuesday was the day for people who may be in the path of the Category 4 storm to prepare, in event further evacuations are ordered Wednesday, the newspaper said.
"While it is still too early to tell exactly what impact Hurricane Earl will have on our state," North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue said, "we do know that we all bear a responsibility to ensure we are ready for any type of emergency."
At 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said the center of Hurricane Earl was 1,000 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and the storm, with top sustained winds of 135 mph, was moving toward the northwest at 14 mph. This general motion was expected to continue Wednesday, when the storm was likely to take a gradual turn toward the north-northwest, forecasters said.
A hurricane watch was posted from north of Surf City, N.C., to the North Carolina-Virginia border, including the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. A tropical storm watch was issued from Cape Fear, N.C., northeastward to Surf City.
The center said communities from Virginia to New England should monitor the hurricane.
Friday, August 13, 2010
President Barack Obama suspended planned exploratory gas and oil drilling off Virginia's coast shortly after the April spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but Mike Tidwell of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and J.R. Tolbert of the Virginia Sierra Club said that doesn't go far enough. They favor a permanent ban.
Tidwell and Tolbert were joined on a news teleconference by former Navy Capt. Joe Bouchard of Virginia Beach, who said drilling platforms off the state's coast also would interfere with military training exercises.
"The industry claims 'we have a great working relationship with the military and we don't interfere with their activities.' You can't believe that for a minute," said Bouchard, a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates.
The push to make Virginia the first East Coast state to explore offshore oil and gas resources has been led by Gov. Bob McDonnell. That hasn't changed.
"The governor supports a comprehensive approach to Virginia's energy needs," McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said in an e-mail Thursday. "He is a proponent of offshore energy exploration and development that is environmentally responsible and economically viable. That includes oil, natural gas and wind."
Tidwell and Tolbert touted wind as a viable alternative to drilling in the Atlantic. Tidwell said enough offshore wind could be harvested to power 3.6 million electric cars and 750,000 homes.
Tolbert said that beats risking an oil spill like the one in the Gulf, which he said has put 300,000 jobs in jeopardy and wrecked the region's tourism industry. BP's Deepwater Horizon oil well spewed more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf before it was successfully capped last month.
Bouchard said the spill reached three of the four Navy training areas in the Gulf, but exercises in two of those areas have been limited to aviation since the 2005 base realignment process. The spill did make a portion of the Panama City operations area unavailable for surface and underwater vessel exercises, he said.
"That should stand as a very clear warning to those of us here in Virginia," Bouchard said.
He said sailing through oil spills also can ruin expensive and sensitive equipment on Navy ships.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Think about all this when another country in need comes calling..............
The StarNews of Wilmington reported Thursday that Mary Marwitz of the Holden Beach Turtle Patrol says volunteers saw the turtle earlier this week. She estimated the turtle at 6-feet-long and 800 pounds.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
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.
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.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The whale was a 10-12-foot Pilot whale, and was sick when it died, said the Marine Stranding team. They will do an autopsy (necropsy) on the mammal to determine its cause of death. Dare County police say they are waiting for scientists from Wilmington, N.C., to complete the autopsy (necropsy).
The Marine Stranding team called on ABC Towing in Kitty Hawk to remove the animal from the beach.