News, notes and observations from the Bay Journal staff.
The scientific name of American shad, Alosa sapidissima, may mean savory fish, but it appears that the region’s hungry horde of blue catfish don’t necessarily share that view.
Some fishery managers in recent years have worried that rapidly growing numbers of the nonnative catfish in the region’s tidal rivers might hamper efforts to rebuild populations of shad and river herring, whose coastwide populations are at near-record lows.
But a recent analysis of the stomach contents of blue catfish caught in the James River from 2012 through 2015 found little evidence that they were zeroing in on shad and herring as they migrated upstream to spawn.
Oxygen conditions in the Chesapeake remained in the average range in late August, after having been whipsawed between being among the best on record in early summer, then worse than normal in late July.
In late August, about 0.97 cubic miles contained low oxygen, or hypoxic, water which was close the the average of 0.95 cubic miles for that time of year, according to an update released Monday by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
When I met Andrew McLean last summer, I was with a group of a dozen journalists on his Ruthsburg chicken farm. We were there as part of a Chesapeake Bay field trip put on by the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources for reporters from all over the world, which I helped plan.
At McLean’s 350-acre Eastern Shore farm, we had to suit up head-to-toe, with paper booties on our feet and blue jumpsuits over our shorts and t-shirts. We were about to enter his chicken houses, where he kept close to 200,000 birds that he was growing for Perdue.
Many in the group were visiting a chicken farm for the first time. Anticipating the reporters’ possible reactions to industrial farming, McLean, a former banker, explained how automation and computers helped him care for and feed his chickens and operate his six houses without additional labor. He told us that, while he was happy with the operation, he was planning to convert his farm to organic birds. The visiting reporters remarked on how it was much different - as in better, cleaner, and more humane - than they had expected.
Tips from veteran Chesapeake Bay photographer Dave Harp about how to capture the perfect images from your outdoor travels.
I always try to get out and make some photos on the solstices and equinoxes, and an assignment to illustrate a story about Trap Pond allowed me to chase the morning light there a few hours after this year’s Autumnal equinox. It’s an amazingly beautiful patch of wild Delaware near Laurel and will be featured in the November issue of the Bay Journal. The pond, created in the 18th century to power a saw mill to convert the trees into board feet of lumber, is the epicenter of the northern most stand of bald cypress trees in the United States. The relatively young trees in the middle of the pond were planted in the 1930’s when the water level was drawn down to allow the trees to grow. Once they’re heads are above the water they seem to do fine in an aquatic environment. Be sure to look for a more complete story about Trap Pond State Park by Tom Horton in the November issue of the Bay Journal.
Bundle up and take advantage of the opportunities for great photos provided the the crisp air, and low angle of sunlight, during winter months.
While cameras have changed much over the past century, one ingredient of good photos has remained largely the same — the tripod.