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Volume 15, Issue 36 ~ September 6 - September 12, 2007

Way Downstream

In Annapolis, the Chesapeake Bay Commission this week issued a scary report about the impact of the ethanol craze — a bandwagon Bay Weekly warned of last spring based on our own research. The report said the rush to grow corn will mean 300,000 more acres of corn planted in coming years. Because corn takes vast amounts of nitrogen fertilizer (roughly 150 pounds per acre), the increase could send an additional five million pounds of nitrogen into the Chesapeake each year and undo recent progress toward stanching the flow of Bay-choking nutrient pollution. But the report said there could be economic value down the road — in second-generation cellulosic ethanol, made from plant waste …

On the Eastern Shore, beware the dark swamp mosquito, Culiseta melanura. That’s the species that the Maryland Department of Agriculture found carrying Eastern equine encephalitis in the Pocomoke River swamp in northern Worcester County — the first finding in Maryland since 2004. Spread only by the bite of an infected mosquito, this bird-sucking insect affects horses and humans alike. The virus — which flourishes near swamps — causes potentially fatal swelling of the brain (encephalitis). While the Dept. of Ag will amp up mosquito control, it advises swamp visitors to protect themselves: wear insect repellent, long sleeves and long pants …

More bad news on the Eastern Shore: Fire has destroyed irreplaceable records about water. It happened at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental and Estuarine Study at Cambridge, where two trailers housing nearly 30 years of research on the disappearance of underwater grasses burned in the early morning hours for reasons that were not immediately clear. The work belonged to Laura Murray and Michael Kemp, a husband-and-wife research team. “I just feel hollow … I don’t know how you start over,” Murray told The Sun …

In Virginia, Bay tributaries are turning ebony and foul-smelling from Virginia Beach to Isle of Wight County with red tides that are closing beaches and killing fish. The cause: steamy weather and pelting rain that washed fertilizer and sewage into Chesapeake Bay. See a photo of the water at

Our Creature Feature is a big mammal doozy from India covered by Bay Weekly pal Tom Long, now reporting from Thailand. In what is being called an action-packed love story, a wild, lusting elephant emerged from the jungles last week, trampled fences and eloped with a willing female circus elephant named Savitri.

As Long wrote, “It was love at first sight for Savitri, too, and she ignored the entreaties of her keeper to follow her Romeo into the jungle.” The circus arranged a posse to track down the valuable Savitri but found that she had “entwined her trunk around her lover’s leg in a show of defiance.”

“I have raised Savitri since childhood and she has always been obedient,” Savitri’s crestfallen trainer, Kalimuddin Sheikh said. “But the [rogue elephant] seems to have won her affections.”

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