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Volume 15, Issue 39 ~ September 27 - October 3, 2007

Way Downstream

In Maryland, as far as mosquitoes are concerned, we’re between the devil and the deep blue sea. The West Nile virus showed up in recent weeks in mosquito pools in three Maryland counties, Anne Arundel, Prince George’s and Montgomery. A few weeks earlier on the Eastern Shore, Eastern equine encephalitis showed up in dark swamp mosquitoes, Culiseta melanura, in the Pocomoke River swamp. In rare cases, both can be deadly …

In Annapolis, in case you missed it, Maryland Department of Natural Resources warned this week that blue crabs are in serious danger in the Bay, confirming a scarcity that watermen and crab prices have been warning us about all summer. The department’s annual survey turned up the second-lowest number of juvenile crabs since counting began 18 years ago. The worst-case scenario — which could be accelerated this year by an estimated 10 percent overfishing — is collapse of the Bay’s most valuable fishery …

In Ocean City, Boathenge was nixed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Businessman Joe Kroart had proposed to raise 38 boats in a Stonehenge-like circle on the beach as a tourist magnet. “Natural Resources Article 8-1101 prohibits permanent [beach] structures unless relating to storm control, beach erosion and sediment control, maintenance projects, and a planned pipeline,” DNR explained. “A sculpture does not relate to any of those exceptions and could get in the way of our efforts if we have to undertake an erosion control or maintenance project on that section of the beach.” …

In Washington, the Senate’s long-delayed water bill passed this week, showering lots of water goodies on Maryland. When our junior Sen. Ben Cardin took to the floor, he said he was especially proud of the $195 million the bill brings to Poplar Island, the mammoth public works project rebuilding the island with dredge spoils from the approach channel to Baltimore harbor.

The new money will mean the island grows by 575 more acres, about one-third of them wetlands. Said Cardin: “Poplar Island has risen Phoenix-like from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.” That may be, but what happens there after taxpayers spend over a half-billion dollars hasn’t been spelled out. Incidentally, the bright lights shining in the east and visible from all over the Western Shore mark the work perimeter at Poplar Island …

Our Creature Feature comes from Australia, where authorities have been treating a white koala suffering from blindness and other health problems. After police delivered the rare creature, specialists north of Sydney performed surgery to relieve conjunctivitis in both eyes and gave him antibiotics, successful treatment judging by what happened next.

The koala, named Mick, was released into the wild with all the secrecy of a spy novel so as to prevent an even worse fate: getting snatched by poachers. “He’s looking good,” the animal hospital supervisor told Reuters.

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