Dock of the Bay

Volume VII Number 33
August 19-25, 1999

  • Swimming Your Way: She-Crabs Bearing Cash
  • Tickled to Turn 40, Calvert Library Books a Birthday Bash
  • McRooster Helps West Annapolis Scratch Out Crime
  • Way Downstream ...

  • Swimming Your Way: She-Crabs Bearing Cash
    photo by Sandra Martin Down Bay from the Rhode River at the Watts' Town Point crab operation, Bill Gaines shows the distinctive "capitol dome" of the she crab.

    Here's a new twist on catch-and-release fishing. One hundred female blue crabs are being released into the Rhode River. Catch one and you'll be $2 richer.

    Behind the release-and-catch scheme is Heather Turner, a North Carolina State graduate student on a crab fellowship at our Southern Anne Arundel County neighbor, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Turner wants to know the traveling patterns of mature female blue crabs.

    She crabs are mature when the dome-shaped aprons on their underside are bluish-orange.

    "Even though the blue crab has been studied for so many years, there are many aspects of their reproductive biology we don't understand," says Turner, who hopes to discover the migrating patterns of these mature females by tracking their progress.

    After mating, these mature females have one purpose in life. They must migrate down the Chesapeake Bay toward the Atlantic Ocean to lay their eggs. Eggs laid in water without a lot of salt will not survive.

    Turner wants to learn how long it takes the crabs to make this journey down the Bay and into the Ocean. She also hopes to discover when she crabs begin their trek downstream. Some female crabs are still spotted in the Bay in early fall. Turner hopes to find out why.

    She also hopes you will help.

    Each released she crab will have a small metal tag wired to it. The tag holds Turner's phone number, 410/798-4424 x 463, and a serial number. The serial number notes the crab's release date. Crabs released in August are marked with #KV. She crabs released in September will be marked #FX.

    If you discover one of these tagged females, a $2 reward is yours. All you need to do is phone Turner's number and read the serial number on the tag. Then let Turner know where you found the female crab and how she was caught.

    You get to keep the crab or return her to the Bay. As you make your decision, remember that many scientists believe that releasing females is our best hope in restoring the Bay's blue crab population.

    Remember, too, that you just may have caught the magic crab whose release may make your wish come true.

    Whatever you decide, you'll get your $2. What's more, your name will be put into a larger drawing for $100. Separate drawings will be held for the two serial numbers.

    And whatever you decide, the Bay will be richer. "This data will not only contribute to general information about the blue crab but also lead to life history, how they sustain their population," says Smithsonian's Midge Kramer.

    -Mary Catherine Ball

    Tickled to Turn 40, Calvert Library Books a Birthday Bash

    Spirits live among us.Prince Frederick Library

    More often than you may think, we are influenced by those who are no longer with us. Even some who never existed at all. Impossible? Not at all.

    When you enter a public library, who do you encounter? There's the librarian, of course, and other staff members as well as fellow readers. You don't remember any mummified individuals wandering around? Think again.

    Who's your favorite character in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? Which mystery writer do you find most captivating? Do you remember your mother reading Dr. Suess books to you as a child?

    They're all spirited away for you in the library.

    Other links between you and the many authors, stories, character, you've encountered in your life still linger in a public library. Somewhere, you have been touched emotionally, intellectually or spiritually by words and pages. Certainly most of us have been. Reading brings us closer to who we are by touching us with new ideas. We can choose to accept or reject these ideas. But either way, we are touched.

    Calvert County's Public Library last week celebrated 40 years of bringing people together with books. For four decades, this library - once there was only one; now there are four plus a bookmobile - has helped the citizens of Calvert County to discover more than they know, dream more than they used to and be ever more.

    The anniversary festivities included storytellers, raffles, crafts (the children made bookmarks) and refreshments. Many local authors came too, adding their books and a few new spirits to the already spirited main branch in Prince Frederick.

    Peter Abresch brought his Elderhostel mysteries. Mick Blackistone brought two of his children's books, The Day They Left the Bay and Broken Wings Will Fly. Richard Dodds brought his Illustrated History and Walking Tour of Solomons. Clyde Farnsworth brought his new thriller, Shadow Wars. Dale Graff brought Tracks in the Psychic Wilderness, his documentary of extrasensory perception in the Cold War.

    Ailene and Ralph Hutchins brought their history of Calvert County. Elisavietta Ritchie brought poetry. Donald Shomette brought his many stories of Chesapeake Bay's maritime history, much of which is now underwater. Joel Walton brought guidance to guardians of Labrador retrievers. Ray Wenderlich brought tips on successful leadership.

    Donnie Radcliffe, retired from the Washington Post, brought intimate stories of America's first ladies, who she covered for a quarter century. "Americans always think that they own their first lady," she said. Her empathy for the way Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan and other first ladies, have been criticized propelled her to make their stories known. Both her books - Hillary Rodham Clinton, The Evolution of a First Lady and Simply Barbara - introduce us to two first ladies very much in today's news: our own first lady and a former first lady who may become a first mother.

    Poet Ernestine Brooks credits many spirits - from Maya Angelou to her family - with rousing her own creative spirits. Her self-published poems in such works as Earnest Expressions and The Way I Feel express the need to be heard and loved, against all odds. "The only real message I want to send is to be appreciative and care," said she.

    Mark Millikin revived the legendary spirit of Jimmie Foxx: The Pride of Sudlersville. Foxx was a phenomenal hitter from the Eastern Shore who ranked closely with Babe Ruth, especially during the 1932 baseball season. Troubled by Foxx's unrecognized accomplishment, Millikin decided to pass this player's story on to the public. Thus began a nine-year struggle for the author, who interviewed people close to Foxx, including his family, friends, and fellow baseball players.

    What inspires each of us to act on an idea is overwhelmingly unique, as these writers reveal. And the reaction their words provoke in us, as readers, is also unique. Their cause and our effects ripple beyond the walls of our libraries. As they get older, we grow wiser. At 40, The Calvert County Public Library is crowded with inspiring spirits.

    And the spirits live on in each of us.

    -Jennifer Stillwell

    McRooster Helps West Annapolis Scratch Out Crimerooster

    What kind of animal is usually found in a firehouse, keeping the firefighters company, and occasionally riding on the truck to fires? A Dalmatian you say? Well, the times they are a changin'.

    There's a new group of mascots in West Annapolis, and they are, from their feathers and beaks to their distinctive wake-up call, chickens.

    For close to nine years now, a flock of roosters and hens has called the courtyard between the firehouse and Maryland State Police barracks on Taylor Avenue their home. Nobody is sure exactly how they got there, but according to Firefighter First Class Randy Cowan, common belief is that they started life as an Annapolis resident's Easter present and were turned loose when they got too big to be cute.

    Originally, the state police adopted the birds, but firefighters helped with the cost of feed and even built them a small coop that's hidden underneath some pine trees between the buildings.

    As far as keeping up with their mascot duties, the roosters are everything a Dalmatian is (minus the wagging tail, barking and slobbering), as at least one has shown by riding on the truck to the occasional fire and by representing the fire/police complex on a cartoon map of Annapolis.

    That rooster was Firechicken, a favorite the firefighters raised from a chick. Having been raised by humans, the bird was fearless. Unfortunately, Firechicken's fearlessness got the best of him when he attempted to hold his ground against a ladder truck pulling out of the station.

    "It's the only roadkill I can remember since they've been here," says Cowan.

    The Dalmatians of the world have got some competition for employment, but so far the dogs still rule the roost when you look at the big picture.

    No word yet on how soon McGruff will be looking for work.

    -Russ Pellicot

    Way Downstream ...

    In Virginia, Gov. James Gilmore has riled conservationists by contending that he has no authority to regulate the draining of Virginia wetlands, occurring at its most rapid pace in history. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, among others, says that Gilmore, a Republican, has reneged on a campaign promise to increase wetlands acreage ...

    Potomac River crabs are getting harder to come by. The Potomac River Fisheries Commission voted unanimously last week to restrict the commercial crab harvest to 30 bushels a day per fisher beginning Sept. 15 ...

    In New England, fishing restrictions put into effect in 1994 are helping depleted fish stocks rebound, a new report by the New England Fisheries Management Council says. Haddock, sole and sea scallops are enjoying the biggest resurgence thanks to a series of closures and an increase in the size of mesh net holes. The cod population is still hurting ...

    Our Creature Feature also comes from Utah, where Kristin Murdock is making it big in cow manure.

    Observing old cowpies near a lake one day, Murdock had a thought: Why not turn them into clocks? In those crusty (we hope) pies were the makings of an American success story. Her break came when Donny Osmond displayed one of the time-telling pies on the "Donny and Marie" show. Murdock got herself a Web site, of course (

    We wouldn't be suprised if soon she heads for L.A. Surely the people of Utah, perhaps even Donny Osmond himself, would wave to her and sing: "Bye, Bye Miss American Pie."

    "It Should've Been Me"

    I could have written that Dock of the Bay story.

    If that's what you're thinking, NBT is looking for you.

    Especially if you're alert to what's happening in your village, town or region. We're seeking alert eyes and easy, dispassionate voices in all the communities where New Bay Times is distributed. From Pasadena and Severna Park to Solomons. From Bowie and Crofton to Chesapeake Beach. From Arnold to Riva. From Mayo to Crownsville.

    If you're published, great. You'll have a head start on turning events and undercurrents into factual, timely, intimate and appealing stories.

    If you're aspiring, just as good. Here at New Bay Times, we call ourself a teaching newspaper. Our editors are not only seasoned, prize-winning journalists but also experienced college professors. If you dream of writing and are not afraid of either jumping right in or hard work, New Bay Times is the place to test your dreams. Our interns and contributors have gone onto big things.

    We offer excellent editing, the ears and eyes of 40,000 readers and small honoraria.

    Experienced or aspiring, introduce yourself to Editor Sandra Martin at New Bay Times, P.O. Box 358, Deale, MD 20751 fax 401/867-0307 email Calls are welcome after you've written, on Mondays, Thursdays or Fridays.

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    Volume VII Number 33
    August 19-25, 1999
    New Bay Times

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