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Articles by Robyn Bell

Chesapeake Bay gets a summer show

Go out on the Bay this summer and you’re likely to see dolphins. Not just two or three but huge pods of the big aquatic mammals, arcing out of the roiled water.
    Dolphins are familiar sights on ocean horizons. Not so much in the Chesapeake, though they are seasonal visitors.
    “Dolphins migrate every summer and are often seen throughout midsummer,” says Amanda Weschler, Department of Natural Resources marine mammal and sea turtle stranding coordinator. Rising water temperatures bring more frequent sightings as dolphins come farther up the Bay, often following fishing boats.
    This year they’ve come early.
    In late May, pods off Herring Bay startled Bay Weekly cofounder Bill Lambrecht.
    “Off Herring Bay in about 35 feet of water, I saw groupings that ranged from several to a dozen, spread out in an area approximately 100 yards wide, perhaps 100 or more dolphins altogether,” he reports.
    Dolphins can grow up to 12 feet long and weigh almost 400 pounds. They’re also speedy, swimming over 18 miles per hour. They form large groups because they’re protective of their own kind, and they won’t leave a member of the family behind. They communicate through a complex system of clicks and whistles, making up to 1,000 sounds per minute. If you’re lucky enough to be swimming near dolphins, dunking underwater will give a firsthand experience of their sounds.
    Sightings continued through this month — and thoughout the Bay.
    Fisherman Bryan Garner of Deale saw a field of them at the mouth of the West River “doing dolphin stuff.”
    On a Schooner Woodwind sunset cruise near the Bay Bridge, crew-woman Charlotte Faraci captured them on video:
    Weschler also warns us that bottle­nose dolphins are protected by law:     “Enjoy the dolphins from afar, but be sure not to touch or feed them because it is considered abuse.”

Skateboarding rewards diligence, not age

Skateboarders of all ages are grabbing their decks for a new era of the perennial sport. In Calvert County, 18-year-old Joey Jett and 46-year-old Wayne Cox represent opposite poles in a new skateboarding brotherhood supported by Joe Smialek’s Prince Frederick shop Aggro Joe’s. With hard-driven passion, all three have turned their love for skateboarding into careers.

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World Artists make themselves at home in Annapolis

Betty Mcginnis dreamed big. She wanted to bring together not just her community but the whole world. That’s how World Artists Experiences was born as an all-volunteer effort to bring international arts to Annapolis.
    That’s a nice way of saying that World Artists Experiences depend on human resources rather than money. Especially as you see and hear all performances for free.

Queen Clawdia will be steamed but not eaten

Only one crab can be Queen of the World’s Largest Crab Feast, and it might be the one to be steamed first.

Students sign their way to 2nd ­language credit

Students fluent with their fingers now get credit for their bilingual skills.
    American Sign Language’s acceptance as a high school second language is good for students — and for the million native Marylanders whose first language is not English but ASL.
    Among those students is Jonah Laughlin of Shady Side.

North Beach is drowning.     
    Each time the sea surges forward, homes, buildings and the infrastructure supporting them are at risk. Floodwaters can rise up to erode Route 261, a main thoroughfare and emergency evacuation route.
    “North Beach really is a microcosm of what’s going on in coastal communities up and down the Eastern seaboard faced with rising sea levels,” says town mayor Mark Frazer.

It’s just a game for Senior Olympic billiards player Blaine Jacobs

What Olympic athlete would say the game is not about winning?
    For one, Blaine Jacobs, Maryland’s Senior Olympic Gold Medalist in the sport of billiards.

Sort through hundreds of sunscreens rated from best to worst

As a fair-skinned mutt of European descent, I depend on sunscreen as my summer best friend. However, sunscreen has been found to contain harmful chemicals that make it inefficient and much more of a foe than the friend I need.
    This year, I plan on winning the battle for sun protection. My weapon of choice is the Environmental Working Group’s extensively researched list of the most effective sunscreens.

Impressionists turn Maryland’s ­capital into a city of light

You can pretend you’re in Paris this week, when artists in sunhats and paint-smattered smocks set up their easels all over Annapolis.

A Senior Dog Sanctuary retiree can be your new best friend

Parents assure their children that the old family dog was taken to a farm with lots of new friends and green grass. Most of us know how that really turned out. Now there really is a farm for senior dogs, a sanctuary at that.
    Val Lynch is a doctor and rescuer of dogs. In April 2015, the Lynch family mission expanded to old dogs in need. Now battered, beaten and abandoned elders have a special place at the ­Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland.