Saturday, July 16, 2016
(Picture and article courtesy shoredailynews.com)
Ever get nostalgic about riding the Chesapeake Bay Ferries?
One of the ferries that formerly plied the waters between Kiptopeke and Cape Charles is still in service. The ferry Virginia Beach was put in service by the Virginia Ferry Commission in 1959. The Virginia Beach was a converted World War II LST that was used originally in the invasion of Normandy. Along with the Pocohontas, Delmarva, Old Point Comfort and the Princess Anne, the Virginia Beach was sold to the Cape May Lewis Ferry Company in 1964 after the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel opened.
The Virginia Beach was renamed the Cape Henlopen and served on that route until the mid seventies according to Captain Richard Belote, a former captain of the Princess Anne and a long time employee of both the Virginia and Delaware ferries. At that time the ferry was sold to the Cross Sound Ferry Company to run between New London Connecticut and Oient Point on the northern tip of Long Island New York where she continues to serve today.
The Cape Henlopen is the only original ferry from the fleet to survive. The Pocohontas, Delmarva, Northampton and Old Point Comfort were scrapped, the Princess Anne is now a fishing reef off of Palm Beach Florida and the Accomac was being refurbished to send to the Amazon River when she caught fire in a Norfolk shipyard and was declared a total loss. All of the older ferries were of mid 1930s or 1940s vintage with the Accomack being rebuilt from the old Virginia Lee to accommodate automobiles only.
The Cross Sound Ferry Company apparently intends to continue to use the Cape Henlopen for a while longer. A photo on their web site shows the boat in dry dock in 2009 where she received new engines.
Friday, June 1, 2012
If you have never seen a Skipjack up close now is your chance! I will agree that docked they look alot like most any other boat at a pier but such water vessels as these are disappearing from our Eastern Shore lives.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to observe part of the yearly Skipjack Races from our boat. There is absolutely nothing else on the water that has the Skipjacks grace and beauty.
The Delmarva Discovery Center has activities planned for Saturday from 2 to 4 PM. Please go to the link below the photos to read about the Ida May and to inform yourself on this reception you really don't want to miss.
|Skipjack Ida May while docked in Pocomoke City, Maryland|
|Skipjack Ida May|
Docked in Pocomoke City, Maryland
|Skipjack Ida May|
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Monday, April 18, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
It is believed to be the largest single illegal netting of striped bass in a quarter of a century. The haul, with a market value of about $15,000, was so large that the 25-foot patrol boat had to radio the 73-foot buoy tender M/V J.C. Widener for help.
"My gosh, I did not expect this many fish," said Cpl. Roy Rafter, who spearheaded the operation that began Monday afternoon and continued overnight. "It's overwhelming."
Ten officers and Department of Natural Resources employees spent the afternoon at the Matapeake pier on Kent Island cutting fish out of netting and preparing them for sale. The fish averaged 27 inches and about 10 pounds, with some 40-inch fish mixed in.
The conservation community expressed anger at the latest example of lawlessness.
"This is another example of the staggering abuse of our state natural resources by gill nets," said Tony Friedrich, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association Maryland. "It also shows why NRP's effective enforcement of our marine laws is critical for a healthy bay."
Said Bill Goldsborough, a Chesapeake Bay Foundation scientist and member of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission: "The watermen's community has to step up more than it has and put its house in order. They have to put pressure on the illegal watermen." State officials, who have toughened penalties and stepped up prosecution, vowed to squeeze the poachers even harder. The public, in turn, is offering police tips as never before, said Joe Gill, DNR's deputy secretary and former assistant attorney general.
"This is a sign of good, aggressive police work. This is a sign we are catching offenders," he said. "I think it is unacceptable to the public, as perhaps it wasn't before, to allow this kind of poaching to go on."
Rafter said three unmarked nets were tied together and anchored to form a 900-yard-long death trap.
Gill nets that drift are legal in Maryland. But anchored gill nets — mazes of nylon mesh held in place on the bay bottom by multiple anchors — were banned in 1985 to protect the population of striped bass, also known as rockfish.
Watermen are required to stay within two miles of their gill nets because of the risk that large numbers of other fish could be caught in them and killed. They also are required to mark nets with plastic floats.
Rafter and Officers Greg Harris and Drew Wilson discovered the net Monday afternoon while dragging a popular illegal fishing area on the opening day of the gill net season. It is part of an annual cat-and-mouse game between poachers and their underwater nets and police with their hooks and sonar.
For example, NRP arrested eight Rock Hall watermen last February for numerous striped bass violations, including netting oversized fish. In 2001, 11 Rock Hall watermen were arrested for poaching in the Chester River and officers seized 3,950 pounds of striped bass with a market value of $6,200. In the winter of 1993, officers hauled up 22 illegal nets totaling five miles dotting the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore County to Calvert County.
On Monday, after hooking the net, the officers marked it and returned it to the bottom. At midnight, with snow and sleet falling, the officers staked out the area, hoping the poacher would return.
"Ice covered everything. We had to chip away at the build-up on the windows just to keep watch," said Rafter, a former waterman and deputy sheriff. "At dawn, the fog moved in. The only saving grace was the winds were calm and the water was flat."
At 7 a.m., they began hauling in the net and pulling out the fish. When the pile was 3-feet deep on the deck, they called for help. The Widener, on icebreaking duties in the Magothy River, headed across the bay.
The nets will be destroyed and money from the sale of the fish will go to buy more surveillance gear for NRP. Rafter said they have their suspicions about the identity of the poachers, "but it would be hard to prove."
Monday, September 6, 2010
Built in 1886, the Rebecca T. Ruark is the oldest working skipjack on the Chesapeake Bay.
The annual Skipjack race is a tradition held on Deal Island to honor watermen who have for many years dredged for oysters in the bay using the Skipjack.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Environmentalists view algae blooms as a sign of a Chesapeake Bay in peril.
Christy Everett of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation said last week the blooms are yet another sign that the bay's water quality is "out of balance."
The foundation provided to The Associated Press aerial photographs of the blooms taken July 31.
An excessive amount of nutrients washed into the bay by heavy rains help create dense patches of the cranberry-colored algae. Heat hastens the process. As the water cools, the algae decomposes and consumes oxygen while sinking to the sea floor.
If sufficiently dense, algae will remove all the oxygen and leave the water a dead zone.
While not harmful to people, dead zones can kill baby oysters, crabs, underwater grasses and schools of fish.
Margaret Mulholland, an oceanography professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, studies how algae blooms are formed and their environmental effects. She said it is not known if algae blooms have grown more common in the bay.
Species that can avoid the oxygen-depleting algae do, she said.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
"It's one of the areas where we can finally make a living on," said Danny Webster of Deal Island. "It's frustrating."
The two rivers were not originally set aside as sanctuaries under an oyster restoration plan announced by Gov. Martin O'Malley in December, but were created to take the place of one near Smith Island, said Frank Dawson, an assistant secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources.
When the plan was introduced, watermen objected to the sanctuary proposed for the highly productive area near the island, so DNR officials swapped it for areas in the Manokin and Nanticoke, Dawson said.
But at a recent public hearing on the state oyster plan, some watermen expressed interest in going back to the original proposal to place the sanctuary in the Tangier Sound, he said.
"We hope to hear back from them," Dawson said. "We hope they can come together with some sort of consensus."
Webster said Somerset watermen are consulting with oystermen in Dorchester County, who work in some of the same waters, to come up with a proposal on which they can all agree.
Delegate Carolyn Elmore, R-38A-Wicomico, said she attended a recent meeting of the Somerset County Watermen's Association during which the issue was discussed.
"Their concerns are this is already written in stone," she said.
Webster said he and other watermen are anxious about the possible creation of sanctuaries in rivers that have been making a comeback in recent years.
"We're scared to death," he said. "We don't know if we're going to be making a living or not."
DNR officials are open to going back to the original proposal for a sanctuary off Smith Island, if that's what watermen want, said Tom O'Connell, DNR's director of fisheries.
Since January, DNR has held public meetings throughout the state to gather input from watermen and other stakeholders on the plan, which uses a three-prong approach for oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay.
"It's been a very challenging process for us," O'Connell said.
In addition to creating sanctuaries, the plan includes opening part of the bay for commercial aquaculture and maintaining 167,720 acres of oyster bars for harvest by watermen.
On Sunday, O'Malley plans to join other state, regional and university leaders to dedicate a new $11 million facility at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Laboratory in Dorchester County that will allow the lab to double its annual production of oyster spat for Chesapeake Bay restoration.
Friday, August 13, 2010
The naturally occurring bacteria, vibrio, can cause gastrointestinal illness as well as nasty skin infections — and sometimes can kill. So far this year, 24 Maryland cases of vibrio have been recorded, close to the average annual count of 30, but the season is far from over and officials say many cases likely go unreported.
"It's a summertime event in the sense that the organism lives in brackish water and really multiplies in the water when it gets hot," said Frances Phillips, Maryland's deputy secretary of public health services. "As expected, we're seeing an increasing number of cases."
Vibrio enters the body through cuts in a swimmer's skin or when undercooked shellfish is eaten. It's a problem every year in the bay and area rivers, but public health officials worry that this year could be worse.
Officials say swimmers and fishermen should avoid ingesting water from the bay and its tributaries, and should stay out of the water if they have an open wound. Parents should check their children for cuts and scrapes, and should wash them immediately with soap if the water gets near the wound.
Consumers, meanwhile, should make sure their shellfish is thoroughly cooked, and not eat raw shellfish such as oysters. It's not oyster season on the bay, but imported oysters could also be infected with vibrio.
Visitors to Gunpowder State Park in northern Baltimore County said Thursday that they had not heard about the warnings. But some took precautions anyway because they assumed there was some bacteria in the water.
"We always wash off when we get home," said Angela Neff of Perry Hall, who was swimming with her husband, Tom, her two children and three nieces and nephews. "We always think about what may be in the water, but we're not worried enough about it not to swim."
Sonia Austin of Northeast Baltimore said she checked the park website for warnings before bringing her 3-year-old grandson, Khalil Lawson, to swim. She said she didn't see any current advisories. After hearing about the alert, she still felt that the water was safe enough.
"He is having a ball," she said of Khalil. "I'll just keep an eye on him."
Health officials said they were not trying to discourage swimming by healthy people, who generally recover from an infection.
But vibrio can be deadly for people with compromised immune systems, including those with cancer and diabetes. They should avoid the water.
There have been no Maryland deaths this year attributed to vibrio infections, according to state data, but there have been seven deaths since 2007 and 66 hospitalizations. Eight people have been hospitalized this year.
Anyone with symptoms should seek medical attention, health officials said. They usually surface in a day or two and include watery diarrhea with abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and skin lesions.
Some local health offices plan to put warning signs at local beaches, including those in Calvert County, where a handful of cases have drawn media attention.
Dr. David Rogers, Calvert County Health Officer, said there have been four infections locally — three from contact with water from the bay and area rivers, and one from ingesting vibrio. He said he didn't consider that a lot of cases, but he issued an alert because the infections got some media attention after the Patuxent Waterkeeper, an environmental group, sought to alert the public to the dangers.
Rogers did not identify those infected, but they included a man who had fallen on a dock and cut himself before coming in contact with the water and a 10-year-old girl who got an ear infection.
"These are potentially very serious infections," he said. "If you get an area with redness, swelling and pus, it needs to be properly treated. In general, though, I don't consider this an alarming public health situation."
State health officials say that the official count of vibrio cases has not risen much in recent years — there were 29 in 2004 and 33 in 2009. But Phillips acknowledges that many people probably don't see a doctor or the doctor doesn't test for vibrio or report the findings to state health officials, as required by law.
Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are about 4,500 reported cases annually, but the agency also says that cases are underreported.
A 2009 Chesapeake Bay Foundation report on water quality found vibrio and other contaminants in the bay waters becoming an increasing problem. Normally associated with warmer waters such as the Gulf of Mexico, vibrio has become more common in the bay as the world's waters have warmed. In the last year or so, it has even been found in Alaska.
Contributing to that report was Rita Colwell, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and University of Maryland, College Park, who has studied vibrio for decades.
In an interview, she said the bacteria thrives because the salty waters are warming and because runoff polluted with nutrients is fueling growth of plankton, which feeds critters that host vibrio. In dense concentrations, the vibrio make people sick.
If the waters continue to warm and pollution increases, the bacteria will remain out of balance and cases will tick up, she said.
"I don't anticipate a large outbreak," she said. "But people need to take precautions, use common sense."
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Maryland Natural Resources Police released the preliminary cause of death for Warren Douglas Smith, and said a final autopsy is scheduled for next month.
The accident occurred about half mile south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge during the storm. Police said Smith, who was riding a jet ski prior to the accident, was caught in the storm.
Police believe he was not struck directly by lightning but was electrocuted by a nearby strike. Elmer Sappington, 65 of Severn, who was about 75 to 100 feet away from Smith, also on a jet ski, was not harmed by the lightning.
Natural Resources Police warn boaters that lightning can strike over 10 miles away from heavy rain and storms. They advise boaters to check the forecast before going out, and say that anyone caught on the water during a thunderstorm should to move to land and seek shelter immediately.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Governor McDonnell's Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech said a more effective strategy would be to continue approach the problem through a voluntary program designed to educate farmers on best practices and actions for cleaner farming, rather than expanding the regulatory scope of the Environmental Protection Agency. The plan adopted by President Obama would allow the EPA to impose fines and punishments on land developers and farmers. Domenech also stated the computer models the EPA is basing its plan on are flawed. New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have also complained inconsistencies in the EPA computer models.
The Chesapeake Bay suffers from eutrophication, which is an abundance of chemicals and nutrients causing murky waters. The Bay also has high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediments, which the EPA's plan specifically hopes to reduce. The three pollutants are cited as the chief culprit in the Bays low water quality, which has made it difficult for plants, fish and shellfish to thrive.
It remains clearly ultimately the two sides have the same goal in mind, a cleaner Chesapeake Bay. Better water quality would lead to increased fish and shellfish harvests, as well as farm harvests. However, the two sides are approaching the problem with far different ideas. Domenech responded to questions of why Maryland has not complained about the Obama plan saying "they're highly regulated already. But in Virginia, we have a different mentality."