Blue Crabs are Delicious, But We Ate None

Wallops Island Morning Afternoon Friday 061

The students of York College of Pennsylvania enrolled in the summer Marine Biology 210 course traveled to Wallops Island in Virginia to the Chincoteague Bay Field Station to study marine life, particularly crab species, for three days. This was my last course to complete prior to receiving my bachelor’s degree.

We arrived shortly after noon at the field station on Friday May 30th and split into three groups. Each group had their own species of crab: fiddler crabs, ghost crabs, and blue crabs. I was part of a small group of four studying the blue crabs.

Fishing for and the processing of blue crabs is a huge industry for both Maryland and Virginia. My group was interested in whether there was a size difference in the crabs on Wallops Island, which is owned by the government and closed to the public, versus the crabs found at Assateague Island, an island that is visited by countless tourists yearly.

The blue crab is a scavenger, eating nearly anything it finds at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay. We fished for the crabs on Wallops Island using chicken, shrimp, oysters, and gummy worms. The crabs ate all of it, though the chicken was the most popular bait. My group was not interested in what the crabs were eating, but the size of the crabs caught in the 25 minute time frame given.

On Wallops Island, a total of 12 crabs were caught off of a dock with half being male and half female. The average size of the Wallops crab was 3.75 inches in width. On Assateague Island, 22 crabs were caught using only chicken from the banks of a running stream. Of the crabs caught, 14 were females and 8 were males. The average size of these crabs was 4.68 inches.

Eat in one bite

Eat in one bite

What we learned was the crabs caught on a public island was larger than those caught on the private island disproving our hypothesis that the larger crabs would be found on Wallops because there were no humans fishing there. Possible theories I came up with to explain this were the human activity on Assateague contributed to their larger size because more food was made available to them through fishing and accidental or intentional feeding. The legal size to keep a blue crab is 5 inches. Based on the sizes of the crabs students caught at this time of year, the crabs should easily reach legal size at the height of fishing season in August.

People love to eat blue crabs and they are especially good with Old Bay Seasoning. Humans are probably the biggest threat to the blue crab population, but not because of fishing. As long as the guidelines and laws are followed for crab fishing, the crabs are able to replenish yearly. The real problem for the blue crab population is the excess of nutrients found in the Chesapeake Bay that is making it difficult for the blue crabs to survive in their own habitat.  There is too much animal and human waste, car exhaust and power plants that are contaminating the creeks and rivers that empty into bay and all that pollution is having a negative impact on the blue crab. The excess nutrients cause algae to grow which leads to poor water quality and low oxygen levels making the bay habitat unhealthy for the crabs.

All too small to keep

All too small to keep

There are easy steps humans can take to stop causing the blue crabs habitat to deteriorate. First would be to cut back on the use of lawn fertilizers. These fertilizers wash away with every rain and always wind up in the running streams and rivers that lead directly to the bay. Secondly, whenever possible, carpool, use public transportation, ride a bicycle, or walk. The less exhaust released into the air, the less that will eventually end up in the water supply and dump into the bay. Lastly, plant a tree or two. Trees absorb the carbon dioxide cars create while releasing oxygen back into the air. They also absorb pollutant gases in their leaves and bark keeping them from every making it into flowing water. Sadly, if something isn’t done to keep the water that flows into the bay clean, the blue crab population will continue to decrease yearly and there will be less and less to harvest for humans to eat.

Wallops Island Morning Afternoon Friday 071

Inner Harbor MD Made My Feet Swell

A day in Inner Harbor with my camera, three bottles of water and a ham sandwich was my goal.  During the drive I decided to stop at Hunt Valley and take the light rail.  I hadn’t been on the light rail in years, and never with the thought to just jump off at any stop to take pictures.  This is why I love solo adventures.  I can be completely unpredictable, and I don’t mind.

"Welcome" said the invisible operator.

“Welcome” said the invisible operator.

Get your ticket from Girlboxer

Get your ticket from Girlboxer

Solo Ride

Solo Ride

I paid the $2.20 student fare, excited to get this journey moving forward.  A young man was walking through aisle, picking up litter.  There really wasn’t much to pick up.  I asked him how long until the train leaves and he said there was a 15 minute lay-over.  So much for getting back on the move.  Why not entertain myself with taking photos?

To view the thumbnails at full size and for best quality, click the first and a gallery will open.

I hopped off at a random stop.  The old Fire House caught my eye.  The building beside the fire house had a strange, art-deco look.  It didn’t exactly fit in with the rest of the architecture.  I loved the iron-work on the bridge.

From the train windows, this abandoned building caught my eye, but I didn’t check it out.

Inner Harbor 051

Inner Harbor 052 Inner Harbor 053I missed the Camden Yards train stop because I was texting Dale.  I was happy to walk for a bit before getting to the Harbor.  The light fixtures, stained glass windows and mailboxes are always an interest to me.

My first view of Inner Harbor.  Nice cop car--Maryland cops must not eat donuts.

My first view of Inner Harbor. Nice cop car–Maryland cops must not eat donuts.

I was just beginning my walk, making it to the harbor around 1 PM.  It was a hive of activity but not so packed I couldn’t move around and take leisurely photos.

The harbor in three shots

The harbor in three shots

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Inner Harbor 126

This marble rolled around on the fountain.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not!  Pretty cool stuff.Inner Harbor 125 Inner Harbor 127 Inner Harbor 129 Inner Harbor 130 Inner Harbor 131 Inner Harbor 132 Inner Harbor 134 Inner Harbor 135 Inner Harbor 136 Inner Harbor 137 Inner Harbor 138 Inner Harbor 139 Inner Harbor 140 Inner Harbor 141 Inner Harbor 142

RANDOM PHOTOS OF PEOPLE AND THINGS

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I Heart Inner Harbor Maryland

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The U.S.S. Constellation

 “In 1968, the ship was moved to the inner harbor where she served as the centerpiece of the city’s revitalization effort. Lack of maintenance funds, however, led to significant dry rot over the next two decades, resulting in a 36-inch hog in her keel and severely damaged her structural integrity.

In 1994, her rigging was removed and she was closed to the public. A new Constellation Foundation raised the funds needed for a major renovation project and the repaired sloop-of-war returned to her permanent berth in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on 2 July 1999.”  http://www.historicships.org

Constellation 1797
Constellation 1797

Currently under construction is a monument in memorial to the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City.

Piece of the Twin Towers and future memorial sight in Baltimore.

Piece of the Twin Towers and future memorial sight in Baltimore.

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Inner Harbor 164

Plaque in front of Barnes & Noble

Plaque in front of Barnes & Noble

When Lightship 116 “Chesapeake” was completed in 1930, she was among the most modern and capable ships in use with the US Lighthouse Service.

Built in 1930

1930

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Chesapeake 2013

 The ship was equipped with two 5,000-pound mushroom anchors (one main and a spare) designed to hold her on station in all but the roughest weather.

The ship was equipped with two 5,000-pound mushroom anchors (one main and a spare)                                                designed to hold her on station in all but the roughest weather.

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Beautiful View

Beautiful View

Crab art

Crab art

Hard Rock Cafe stair rails.

Hard Rock Cafe stair rails.

Phillip's Restaurant

Phillip’s Restaurant

Baltimore Pumping Station

Baltimore Pumping Station

This building was just beautiful.  Amazingly, it was built to house shit.  Baaaahahahaha!  Go figure.  I rang the buzzer and some employees answered the door.  I asked if I could come in and take pictures.  They asked why and I said I thought it would make for good photographs.  That was good enough for them and they were happy to have a distraction from the shit…I mean their work.

Outside the Sewage Pumping Station

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Love these old time lights

Love these old time lights

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The US Coast Guard Cutter TANEY

“Commissioned on 24 October 1936, TANEY was first home ported in Honolulu, Hawaii, where, until the outbreak of World War II, she interdicted opium smugglers and carried out search and rescue duties from the Hawaiian Islands through the central Pacific Ocean. On 7 December 1986, after more than 50 years of continuous service, TANEY was decommissioned at Portsmouth, Virginia, and donated to the City of Baltimore to serve as a memorial and museum.” http://www.historicships.org/taney.html

Taney 1930's

Taney 1930’s

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More random shotsInner Harbor 202 Inner Harbor 203
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Many mini doors in Baltimore

Many mini doors in Baltimore

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Columbus Monument

The USS Torsk

“Commissioned on 16 December 1944, USS TORSK was built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and was one of only ten Tench Class fleet type submarines to see service in World War II. Decommissioned on 4 March 1968, with an impressive record of over 10,600 career dives, TORSK arrived in Baltimore to serve as a museum and memorial in 1972.”

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2013

2013

1944

1944

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The Star Spangled Flag House and Museum

I came across The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and it seemed deserted.  I gave myself a personal tour and took pictures without having to fight a tour group.  I copied this information from their website.  Entry is $8 but yesterday for me, it was free.

“Here, you’ll step into living history as you meet Mary Pickersgill, the spirited woman who made the flag. You’ll learn first-hand from Mary, her family and friends what life was like in the 19th century and your kids can take part in activities that let them experience it for themselves. And you can do it all in a half day, with little strain on your entertainment budget.” http://www.flaghouse.org

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Saint Anthony Mosaic

Saint Anthony Mosaic

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Beer on the go

Beer on the go

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Who wants to clean windows?

Who wants to clean windows?

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Pirates of the Harbor

Pirates of the Harbor

Cleaner of the Harbor

Cleaner of the Harbor

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Guess where I ate.

Guess where I ate.

Bird blends in but lacks the proper uniform.

Bird blends in but lacks the proper uniform.

I came across several abandoned buildings during my endless walk.  Most were secure and I couldn’t get in and they had the windows covered in paper.  One was not secure so I just walked in, but it wasn’t that exciting and there were no steps to the basement.  The second set of photos is of a bar that looks like it had been abandoned but is being renovated.  I’d like to go back when it’s complete!

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This pet will be easy to locate in case of fire.

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This church was right behind the dilapidated store front building.  Quite the contrast.
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Inner Harbor 302

I ended my day hanging out at Patterson Park with my friend, Steve, and his daughters.  They live nearby and Steve was happy to come give me a guided tour of the enormous park.  There was a man-made lake, open for fishing and wildlife.  Trails for people jogging, biking or walking dogs.  The coolest thing at Patterson Park was The Pagoda building.

“The Pagoda, originally known as the Observatory, was designed in 1890 by Charles H. Latrobe, then Superintendent of Parks.  While known as the Pagoda because of its oriental architectural appearance, the design was intended to reflect the bold Victorian style of the day. From the top of the tower one can view downtown, Baltimore’s many neighborhoods, the Patapsco River, the Key Bridge and Fort McHenry.  Over time and due to natural decay, vandalism, and lack of maintenance funds, the Pagoda was closed to the public in 1951 when the first of a series of partial renovations was attempted. At one point demolition was proposed as an option, but thankfully the 1998 Master Plan for Patterson Park called for the complete restoration of the Pagoda.” (http://pattersonpark.com/places-in-the-park/pagoda/)

The Pagoda 2013

The Pagoda 2013

“On Hampstead Hill, the ridge where the Pagoda now stands, Baltimoreans rallied on September 12, 1814 to protect the city from the threat of a British invasion. By water, British troops entered the Patapsco River and bombarded Fort McHenry. By land, they amassed forces at North Point. As they marched on to Baltimore and looked up to Hampstead Hill they saw Rodger’s Bastion – including 100 cannons and 20,000 troops. This sight led the British to return to their ships and leave the Port of Baltimore.” (http://pattersonpark.com)

Now I wouldn't have thought of using the fountain in this matter...

Now I wouldn’t have thought of using the fountain in this matter…

My guides

My guides

Unlike Philadelphia, PA, Marylanders are not welcome to swim in the fountains.

Unlike Philadelphia, PA, Marylanders are not welcome to swim in the fountains.

Small but mighty

Small but mighty

As the day became night, I wrapped up taking a few last pictures before Steve dropped me off safely at the Light Rail to head back home.  By the end of this day trip, my feet were in agony and my toes felt like over-filled sausages.  I couldn’t wait to get home and kick off my sneakers!

The edge of the water was disgusting.

The edge of the water was disgusting.

The tracks back home

The tracks back home

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Old water fountain

Old water fountain

albino!

albino!

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A great day in Baltimore, Maryland!  I like to move around town as much as possible.  ~P.

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