Dr. Doug Tried to Ruin Our Day at the Beach

Journey 2 consisted of a much greater understanding of the environment around me. I not only enjoy the aesthetic appeal of a beach or a marsh, but I can tell you why they look the way they do. Recalling that journey 2 began at the Watershed Forum in West Virginia and ended at Chincoteague, Asateague, and Ocean City, we explored the diverse ecosystems. Before Chesapeake Semester and before I encounter one of Dr. Doug’s lectures, I would have never questioned sediment type or geological structures in such detail. On our final day of journey 2 as we layed our sediment samples on the table and presented our findings to Dr. Doug, it became evident at how much we have learned in a short amount of time. Our ChesSemes group was discussing the differences between the mafic, rocky sediment of West Virginia to the white, small sand sediment of the beaches.

Dr. C enlightened us about the critters that live in the marsh. While at Chincoteague, we were able to explore a marsh, collect specimen, and record our findings. The Littorina snails that used the Spartina alterniflora to climb as the tide came in, were everywhere! At the marsh, just as at Smith Island, we were informed that boat wake causes damage that many overlook. The edge of the marsh was eroding and had a steep bank. Although the marsh cord grass helps expand and grow the marsh, it sometimes does not fair well over human influences such as boat wake.

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During our sunset kayak, it amazed me to see oyster bars. To imagine that only 1% of the Chesapeake Bay oysters exist today, saddens me. I’ve never seen wild oyster bars such as those at Chincoteague and I began to ponder what the people will do about the Chesapeake Bay’s oysters. There is talk about bringing in a different species of oyster to the bay, but without knowing the consequences of the new species, it is unlikely that this will be an option. Too many people believe in the ‘culture’ of the Chesapeake Bay oyster to give up on it, and begin with a new breed. In my opinion, I believe that the Eastern oyster should continue to be grown and reproduced in hatcheries, but that a new species of oyster may be worth a try for the Chesapeake Bay. For me, it is more of saving and filtering the bay as opposed to saving a beloved species of oyster.

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While at Asateague, Dr. Doug taught us way more than we ever wanted to know about a beach. All eyes were on us as we lugged around our cameras and water shoes and stopped at each part of the beach to discuss it. Pretty sure playing with our pet bowling ball MRL didn’t help us to blend in very well.

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Finally, before heading back to WAC, Chesapeake Semester stopped at Ocean City, MD. Here, we learned how much of a human impact there was on the barrier island. As we walked down the boardwalk that was very crowded for an October morning, we discussed the differences between the protected Asateague and the over constructed OC. At this rate, Ocean City most likely produces a huge amount of pollution, especially in summer months, and with the heavy tourism, it is unlikely that these people see the beauty in the land anymore. There is a reason that Asateague does not have as many visitors as OC. OC was made into a tourist attraction, and for the most part, disregards the power of nature. The destruction of Ocean City will most likely come by a storm and storm surge.

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Journey 2 made me question why structures are the way they are. Geologically, we now have an insight as to our natural surroundings. Environmentally, we begin to question why humans continue to build on barrier islands.

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