Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Livaboards and the Health of the Bay

Healthy plants make for healthy water, though they can be a pain on your prop.
Living here, year in and year out, right ON the water, you see it all. Perhaps more than any group of people, we who live on our vessels see every change, however minute, to the bay and it's tributaries. We wake to the birds along the banks. We hear the frogs in spring (or lack thereof), the slap of fish against our hulls, and the racket that the geese make when they land. We saw first hand the huge die-off last November when warm temperatures and chemicals in the runoff conspired to create an algae bloom that whiped out every fish, crustacian, and most of the plants, paving the suddenly clear bottom with dead fish and sending our seabirds elsewhere. We witnessed the huge effort of the country and civic organizations as they cleaned the shoreline along Hawthorn of human detritus. We are bellweathers. We can report it all.
This little guy actually got sucked up by our galley sink pump.  He's quite lively.

This summer I'm pleased to say the report is pretty good. The health of the Chesapeake Bay and it's tributaries seem to be in better shape than I've seen them in years. Efforts to curb runoff into the waters (including the much-derieded “rain tax”) along with a healthy growth of waterplants have led to some of the best water quality we've seen here in Middle River. Schools of fish are back in droves (This was especially pointed out to me when we literally pumped a pencil eel into our galley sink one morning). Our more enthusiastic slip mates are leaving early in the mornings and coming back with baskets laiden with large, healthy looking crab.
The crabs are back in force this year.
The birds are having a great time. Ospreys plunge into the river here and then struggle up carrying what is either some really large fish or a lost Japanese MiniSub, we're not sure. The potted rosemary on our finger peir has been host this summer to three—count em—three clutches of duck eggs, for a grand total of 23 ducklings for the season. Whatever we and nature are doing, it's working.
Why, WHY!?, do the ducks love our rosemary pot as a nesting site?

That's not to say that human stupidity and churlishness don't complicate matters. Clowns in powerboats still occassionally tear through our 6Kt zone throwing 3 foot wakes, battering boats and sea grasses, and I wish I could find whoever filleted three gigantic rockfish the other day only to toss the huge remaining carcasses back into the water in which the marina kids swim (smooth move, numbnuts). We're becoming more aware, though, and that pleases me. Folks are being more careful about their trash and cigarette butts, people are actually making an effort to fish plastic bags and bottles out of the waters if they float by, and, in general, policing of runoff and chemicals and black water systems is improving daily.

We're livaboards. We see this stuff. You're doing better. Keep it up. 


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  1. People who are directly tied to the land (or water) for their livelihood (or residence) are much more likely to take care of it. I'm glad to hear that things are looking up in your marina.

    What you should have done with those fish carcases is fish them out (get it?) and give them to the guy who goes crabbing. It not only cleans up the local scene but also turns an eyesore (and health hazard) into dinner.

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