The Bay

Students enjoy a sunset on Smith Island

Chesapeake Bay is rich in history, resources and natural beauty. All of these are evident on Smith Island, located off the eastern shore half way up the bay. During our stay on the island, we gained a sense of place by talking with residents of town, scraped for crabs (and other marine life) in the grass beds, and discussed policy with educators from the Chesapeake bay foundation.

Should pacific oysters, non-native, but resistant to invasive disease that has decimated native oyster populations be introduced? Does scraping grass beds for crabs really encourage more growth? How will the island be affected by rising sea levels? What would it be like to live a life with time dictated by season and tide? These and other questions kept us thoroughly engaged.

Zakk found a dry place to stow himself on the ride to Smith IslandDespite the decline of the oyster fishery, waterman are able to make a living from the sea.  We were on the island for the soft-shelled crab seasonStudents and Alumna Julie Falkner ('85) discuss issues raised during the day. Julie, a senior policy advisor for The Nature Conservancy, joined us on Smith IslandAlex displays bycatch from our crab scraping, a sea turtle.  The turtle later found its way back into the bay








One afternoon was spent strolling teh streets of Tylertown, and visiting with the residents to hear their stories.  All welcomed us into their homes, and the experience helped us appreciate the deep traditions of the islandAlex enjoys boiled crab at Harris Crab House.  Owner Karen Ortel gave her perspectives on bay issues, challenging scientists for endlessly seeking grants rather than action, and environmentalists for being too cautious about introducing Pacific oysters