Teachers on the Bay

Image003Last summer, I participated in CBF's Chesapeake Classrooms course, Teachers on the Bay, thanks to a scholarship from the Garden Club of the Northern Neck. My goal was to bring some of the participatory lessons CBF teaches back to Northumberland County Public Schools, specifically middle schoolers and my 6th grade Community Problem Solving team, which I tasked with taking on a Chesapeake Bay-related problem.

Some of my students come from families who have worked on the Chesapeake Bay for generations; others have never been out on the water. What most students and I have in common is a lack of hands-on understanding of the Bay.

The week-long teachers education program began on the Rappahannock River where we learned how to test water quality and watched the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries electrofish to monitor species, most of which were invasive blue catfish. We listed types of marsh grasses, species we sighted, including 50 bald eagles in our first hour out on the water and a nesting pair of peregrine falcons that live under the Robert O. Norris Bridge in Tappahannock. We motored part of a route once traveled by Captain John Smith, some of which has barely changed. We also learned about the threat of development to the river and Fones Cliffs, where we spotted most of the eagles.

After two days on the Rappahannock, we went out on the Bay and tested the water at about 126 feet, one of its deepest points. We spent the rest of our time at CBF's Fox Island Education Center in the middle of the Bay. We learned the purpose of marshes and climbed into thick gooey mud holes, a practice known as marsh mucking (highly recommended!). At one point, I was buzzed by what turned out to be a peregrine falcon on its way to harass some oyster catchers.

Image002Across the water, watermen from Tangier and Smith Islands scraped Bay grasses for crabs, a method that glides a mesh bag over grass beds. We, too, scraped the underwater grasses, bringing aboard oysters, crabs, pufferfish, and the occasional seahorse to observe, study, and then release. In a few months my 6th grade students would be doing the same thing, punctuated by squeals of delight, though some still apprehensive about handling a crab swiping at them.

Last year, Virginia Gov. McAuliffe signed an executive order, establishing the Environmental Literacy Challenge, a voluntary effort to increase meaningful, outdoor experiences and sustainability projects to improve student knowledge about their environment. Finding school time and money to accomplish this is a task, but I found there are resources from grants, support from local businesses as well as state and local officials who will volunteer their time.

In our county, a local environmental group, Northumberland Association for Progressive Stewardship funded a fall trip for a group of 7th and 8th grade students aboard a Waterman Heritage Tour. The trip along the Little Wicomico River and out to the Bay was modeled after the CBF teacher's program. Students counted species, learned how water quality is tested from a local shellfish sanitation official, and toured a working oyster aquaculture farm and oyster house. 

Also in the fall, my 6th grade Community Problem Solving team of 14 students spent three days at CBF's Port Isobel Education Center. Students crabbed, scraped, tried out a new tow net, did a night walk and marsh mucked. They spent time on Tangier Island visiting Mayor "Ooker" Eskridge's crab shanty where they saw shedding crabs and tried wrangling his eels. They walked the island to get a feel for life there and watched a movie at the museum about how the island is disappearing from rising sea levels, subsidence, and erosion. They were touched by the experience and back at school they announced their problem solve would be to "Save Tangier Island."

IMG_0337Their resulting two-year project encompasses raising awareness through education and fundraising to build a living shoreline to help the people of Tangier remain on their home or to help them move if it ever comes to that. The students have partnered with Tangier Town Manager Renee Tyler and participated in a webinar and other interactions with the Norfolk Division of the Army Corps of Engineers to learn more about living shorelines.

Last month, Tangier Town Manager Tyler invited the students to meet with the crew of the Polynesian Voyaging Society's Hōkūleʻa expedition when the Polynesian voyaging canoe visited Tangier. The resourceful students held a bake sale, got a grant from NAPS, and another $100 from the school superintendent so they could hire a heritage waterman to take them to Tangier. They then invited Norfolk Army Corps Commander Col. Jason Kelly, Corps Scientist David Schulte, and Virginia Institute for Marine Science Scientist Molly Mitchell. Along with Tangier's 6th graders and educators from the Hōkūleʻa, the group sat together and discussed climate change and Tangier’s fate along with the potential loss of its heritage and culture.

Community Problem Solving teams are a great way to align environmental literacy with classroom work, and CBF's teacher professional learning courses enabled me to use new lessons (and those shared by other teachers) to do just that. I have about one hour each week to pull students out of a morning class to work on their project. My team's work is entirely student driven while I coach. The students conduct research or bring in experts and plan field trips. The program usually runs for the length of a school year, but this time students are committing two years to the project due to the complexity of their problem. Community Problem Solving and environmental literacy are a great way to keep students motivated and focused on a project as they become active and knowledgeable members of their community.

 —Pamela D'Angelo Hagy
Hagy is a journalist covering the Bay for public radio and various publications as well as a part-time educator.

If you'd like to participate in a Chesapeake Classrooms teacher professional learning course this summer, see the schedule and course descriptions at www.cbf.org/CCsummer. There are still openings on a few courses!


This Week in the Watershed

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CBF's Brock Environmental Center in Virginia Beach earned the distinguished designation of a "Living Building." Photo by Dave Chance.

Despite our world's obsession with growth, the reality is we live on a planet with finite resources. Right now, we're faced with significant challenges, namely climate change and accompanying sea-level rise. Into this picture steps CBF's Brock Environmental Center based in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

This week, the International Living Future Institute designated our Brock Center a "Living Building." From the ground up, Brock is the embodiment of sustainability. First, it was built on land that originally was slated for a massive condo complex. Saving this property from large-scale development not only was critical for the environment, it also preserved a public space for the community. Once construction began, only environmentally safe materials and low-impact building techniques were used. The building features many recycled and repurposed items donated by the Hampton Roads community, including old school bleachers, gym floors, sinks, lockers, and cabinets.

In operation, Brock is energy and water independent, producing twice as much energy as it consumes, and is the first commercial building in the continental United States permitted to capture and treat rainfall for use as drinking water. With an eye towards the future, Brock was built anticipating the effects of climate change, raised 14 feet above sea level.

Last but not least, Brock exemplifies its green roots through serving as the home to a new hands-on, field-based environmental education program. Not only do students explore the natural world surrounding Brock, but they explore the center itself, as the building serves as an inspirational model on sustainable living. One of the toughest building standards in the world, the Living Building Challenge certification demonstrates how buildings should be constructed given our finite resources.

This Week in the Watershed: A Living Building, Rainy Days, and a Failing Harbor

  • CBF President Will Baker writes on how agricultural pollution must be addressed if we are going to Save the Bay. (Bay Journal)
  • CBF's Brock Environmental Center, based in Virginia Beach, VA, was declared one of the world's greenest buildings, earning the elite title of a "Living Building." (The Virginian-Pilot—VA) Bonus: Daily Press—VA
  • The onslaught of rainy days has local farms, including CBF's Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, MD, struggling to meet harvest quotas. (DCist)
  • A report released this week found that oyster restoration projects in Maryland's Choptank River are finding success. (Star Democrat—MD)
  • A new study suggests fish in the Chesapeake Bay and other estuaries face a greater risk from climate change than previously expected. (Bay Journal)
  • Pennsylvania joined Maryland and Virginia in recognizing the week of June 5-11 as Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week. (The Daily Review—PA) Bonus: CBF Press Release
  • Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director, writes on the important connection between soil health and clean water. (York Dispatch—PA)
  • Environmentalists in Maryland are alarmed at the considerable downward trend in enforcement of environmental laws. (Bay Journal)
  • For the third consecutive year, Baltimore's Inner Harbor posted failing grades in its water quality report card. (Baltimore Sun—MD)

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

May 15

  • Norfolk, VA: The Blue Planet Forum is an annual, free environmental lecture series held in Hampton Roads. Its mission is to educate and engage the public on important environmental issues affecting Hampton Roads and the nation. In the next installment of this very popular series, the audience will be treated to presentations by an expert panel on the topic: Water, Water Everywhere: exploring how water inspires and influences us. The event is free, but space is limited, so registration is strongly encouraged. Click here to register!

May 16

  • Baltimore, MD: Cruise the Inner Harbor aboard CBF's 46-foot workboat the Snow Goose as we explore the complex and fascinating relationship between the urban environment and the Bay's natural ecosystem. CBF staff will demonstrate the importance of this port as an economic lifeline for the state of Maryland and help participants appreciate the life cycles and needs of the thousands of birds, fish, crabs, oysters, and other organisms which share these waters. Click here to register!

May 17

  • LaPlata, MD: Join CBF at acrucial public hearing on the future of Charles County. This is your opportunity to provide comment to the Board of County Commissioners on the planning board's recommended Comprehensive Plan, which does not adequately protect the Mattawoman Creek, clean water, healthy forests, or quality of life in the county. Click here to register!

May 20

  • Shady Side, MD: Break a sweat and help Save the Bay—join CBF in cleaning the "homes" of the next generation of Chesapeake Bay oysters! Help restore the Chesapeake's native oyster population by cleaning oyster shells by shaking off the dirt and debris so baby oysters can successfully grow on them. This "shell shaking" event is a bit of a workout but a fun, hands-on experience. With lifting involved, it is not recommended for individuals with bad backs or other health concerns. A tour of our restoration center will follow the shell shaking. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate


What's Bill Seeing in the Field: Opportunistic Eagles

For more than 30 years, CBF Educator and photographer Bill Portlock has been exploring, documenting, and teaching the wonders of the Chesapeake and its rivers and streams. With his vast, intimate knowledge and experience with the watershed, we thought who better to check in with about what he's seeing in the field right now . . .

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On a recent spring morning, I was fortunate to be in my skiff on Cat Point Creek, a tidal tributary of the Rappahannock River in Richmond County, Virginia.

Eagle-rich Fones Cliffs, just four miles upstream from Cat Point Creek, is a unique Bald Eagle concentration zone, with thousands of eagles from Labrador to Florida as well as native Virginia birds using the area for nocturnal roosts, foraging, and (for residents) nesting. Many eagles spill over into Cat Point to forage on its abundant fish, primarily blue catfish and gizzard shad, but at this time of year there are migratory river herring and shad in the river. That the herring spring run to spawn is tied to bald eagle reproduction is yet another interwoven cycle of nature. It is a cornucopia of protein for a couple of months.

Bill1One eagle caught my attention that day by successfully capturing an alewife, a river herring just in from the ocean to spawn, in an oxbow of the creek. After the successful catch, he flew to a low branch over the water to eat his catch. Males are about 20 percent smaller than females, and when females are incubating eggs, males do most of the fishing. I allowed the ebbing tide to quietly drift me toward the scene. Today, this eagle was more focused on consuming his meal than paying attention to me.

Alewives and blueback herring are related to hickory and american shad and are members of the herring family (Clupeidae). These are anadromous fish, meaning they spend the majority of their adult lives at sea and migrate up coastal rivers in the spring to spawn in freshwater.

Bald eagles reproduce earlier than most birds in the Bay region, starting nest construction or repair in December and January. Egg laying and incubation takes place as early as December (and can run until March) in the Chesapeake Bay region. The hatching and rearing of young eagles takes place from March to June. Thus, the spawning run of herring and shad feed young eagles and the parents.

There were dozens of Wilson's snipe feeding on insect larvae, worms, and other invertebrates in the arrow arum marshes. These medium-sized shorebirds frequent the creek during winter before migrating north in April. Two pairs of blue-winged teal and a handsome pair of common mergansers were the only ducks present. But the main show on Cat Point that morning was this adult Bald Eagle capturing and eating this 12-inch river herring right in front of me.

4At one time in the not-too-distant past, coastal rivers supported thriving herring and shad industries, with millions of fish harvested each year. However, populations of these fishes declined dramatically in the last century due to dam obstructions, overharvesting, and pollution. The river herring fishery (which includes the alewife and the blueback herring) has been one of the most valuable in the Bay, with annual catches once exceeding 8 million pounds in Maryland and 30 million pounds in Virginia.

Opportunistic feeders, bald eagles also catch ducks, turtles, and small mammals (muskrat size). But fish make up the bulk of their diet, especially in warmer months. Availability of non-migratory gizzard shad and the introduced blue catfish make up the majority of prey captured now.

But on this day, a migratory alewife was the prey of this hungry eagle. Drifting slowly in my skiff to within 30 feet of the perched eagle, I was able to quietly watch and photograph the eagle. I  felt privileged to be there.   

—Photographs and Text by Bill Portlock, CBF Senior Educator

What else is Bill seeing in the field these days? Click here to see.

 


A Park Manager Looks Back on 27 Clean the Bay Days

59093_1590688095987_7547821_nIn the spring of 1989, 16-year-old Cameron Swain went on an outing with her family in Hampton Roads to pick up trash on a beach. As a teenager, she didn't realize that the small informal cleanup would become the first ever Clean the Bay Day, now going stronger than ever as it enters its 28th year. 

Swain has watched the event grow from its grassroots infancy in the late 1980s and early 1990s to a longtime Virginia tradition that mobilizes thousands across the Commonwealth to beautify their local waterways.

In recent years, Clean the Bay Day has attracted 6,000 to 8,000 volunteers at sites stretching from coastal Virginia to Richmond, Charlottesville, the Shenandoah Valley, and Northern Virginia. In just three hours participants often pick up well over 100,000 pounds of trash.

Just as she has for nearly 20 years, on the first Saturday of June Swain will lead her own Clean the Bay Day site at False Cape State Park in Virginia Beach, where she is the assistant park manager. At False Cape, a few dozen people usually come out to clean the six miles of beach, often picking up between 500 and 1,000 pounds of trash in one morning.

"You get the same volunteers year after year. Now they are bringing their children," Swain says, recalling toddlers at the first cleanup who now come out as adults. "You see these people evolve and grow."

11066783_10153821018615943_1759498088508493681_nOver the years, participants have recovered all sorts of trash from the park's beach. "Now that I've been doing it so many years, nothing really surprises me," she says, listing everything from computer screens and light bulbs to tires and bathing suits. "You name it, it's probably washed up on the beach at one time."

When you consider the sheer number of people who participate, it is amazing how one morning's effort transforms hundreds of miles of beaches, parks, rivers, and streams. The massive collaborative effort across Virginia every Clean the Bay Day is "heartwarming," Swain says. "Even if it's the only time they do it this year, that makes a real difference," she says.

—Kenny Fletcher, CBF's Virginia Communications Coordinator

Be a part of the Virginia tradition! Sign up for this year's Clean the Bay Day.

 


What's Bill Seeing in the Field: Egret Colonies

For more than 30 years, CBF Educator and photographer Bill Portlock has been exploring, documenting, and teaching the wonders of the Chesapeake and its rivers and streams. With his vast, intimate knowledge and experience with the watershed, we thought who better to check in with about what he's seeing in the field right now . . . DSC_2980
The Great Egret is a large wading bird common to the Bay but residing largely along the Southeastern U.S. coast in winter. As spring arrives, they move north and west to begin building their stick nests in rookeries with other egrets and, often, with Great Blue Herons.

Earlier in April, near Blacksnake Island there were six pairs of Great Egrets and a single pair of smaller Snowy Egrets setting up housekeeping in a forest of loblolly pines and oaks in full flower. Their new nuptial plumes glowed in the afternoon light and waved in the 10-knot southeast wind. An osprey passing overhead got their attention but they remained in the canopy. There were nests to build and soon, eggs to incubate. An egret colony in its earliest, pre-nest stage: another sign of spring.

—Photographs and Text by Bill Portlock, CBF Senior Educator

What else is Bill seeing in the field these days? Click here to see.

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April Is Oyster Month!

OysterQuiz2016_500x261We all know oysters are awesome. They filter our water; they provide important habitat and protection from storms; and they are delicious.

So this month, just as we're launching into our oyster restoration season, we're celebrating everything there is to love about our favorite mollusk.

You can take part in the celebration by:

Whatever you chose to do, we hope you'll take some time this month to appreciate and give thanks to these brilliant bivalves! They truly are amazing.

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media

 


What Did You Do on Your Spring Break?

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An unusual group of laborers could be seen bending and lifting in the distance on Paul Quick's farm in Union Bridge, Maryland. They were students from the University of Virginia, doing community service earlier this month as part of an Alternative Spring Break program.

While many of their classmates were still sleeping in, these 10 UVA students were working up a sweat as the sun rose and delivered unseasonably warm temperatures.

Each year at this time an inspired slice of students from many colleges commit to spending their spring break helping in the community in various ways. The UVA students volunteered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, where they worked at the organization's Oyster Restoration Center and Clagett Farm for several days, and then one day to help Quick on his farm.

IMG_4651Quick decided several years ago to put his farm in a conservation easement, to honor his father-in-law's wishes that the old dairy farm not be developed. As part of the arrangement, Quick used federal funding to get 20 acres of trees planted along streams on the property. The trees help buffer the stream from possible polluted runoff from the corn and soy crops.

Those trees have now matured. The students' job was to cut off plastic sleeves called "shelters" that had protected the young trees from hungry deer. With about 7,300 trees needing this attention, it was a day of hard labor for students who may be more accustomed to a library or classroom.

The labor was equally strenuous earlier in the week at CBF's Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, Maryland, where the students cleaned debris off old oyster shells before planting them in restoration efforts. Those shells, which will be used to grow oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay, are heavy. The students had to use a simple device to lift a pallet full of shells above their heads and "shake" the pallet. It was hard work.

But the students said this was the way they preferred to spend their vacation: "It's worth it, but boy, it was a lot of work," said Maggie Daly, a Third-Year biochemistry student from Yorktown, Virginia.

IMG_4646"My shoulders will be sore tomorrow," said Sarah Overton, a First-Year student from Herndon, Virginia.

Daly said she considers herself "environmentally conscious" but wanted to put that ethic to work in the field so to speak. Overton said she felt the same, and also saw the program as a way to see another part of the region. She had always wanted to visit Annapolis, for instance.

Another student, Conner Roessler, a Fourth-Year from Midlothian, Virginia, was doing the program for the second year in a row.

For his part, farm owner Quick said he was glad for the help. He said the conservation easement required him to plant some trees to help buffer his farm streams, but he decided to plant far more.

The trees not only will help keep the streams clean, they also will provide habitat for deer and other wildlife which Quick enjoys.

Rob Schnabel, a CBF restoration scientist who worked with the students, said trees not only help prevent pollution and stream erosion, but also help cool the stream so trout and other aquatic life are more apt to survive. Unfortunately, Maryland is far behind in its goal to get the banks of farm streams planted with trees, he said.

—Tom Zolper
CBF's Assistant Director of Media Relations

Check out more photos of these inspiring students in the field.


Obama Keeps Virginia Coast Off Limits to Oil and Gas Drilling

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In a win for clean water and the Chesapeake Bay, last week the Obama Administration announced its decision to keep Virginia's coastline off limits to offshore oil and gas drilling. In recent years, officials have considered opening up the southern Atlantic coast to drilling, a move that has been supported by many of the governors and members of Congress in the region.

Luckily, it doesn't look like drilling will take place off of Virginia's coast anytime soon. While the U.S. Department of the Interior had included oil and gas leasing off Virginia in a draft proposal released early last year, in the updated five-year plan released this month the southeastern Atlantic coast remains closed to drilling. "When you factor in conflicts with national defense, economic activities such as fishing and tourism, and opposition from many local communities, it simply doesn't make sense to move forward with any lease sales in the coming five years," Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.

Looming over any offshore drilling proposal is the potential for an accident that would result in environmental catastrophe. Remember the Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill of 2010, when more than a hundred million gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and billions of dollars were spent on clean up? Imagine the devastation on the Atlantic Coast if a similar accident were to happen off Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay could suffer some of the very same impacts that plagued the Gulf area following the BP spill—oil-covered beaches, huge swaths of polluted water, and scores of dead and injured wildlife.

In fact, the waters off the mouth of the Bay are very similar to the Chesapeake itself both biologically and hydrologically. Just as science has shown the importance of healthy rivers and streams flowing into the Bay, science also tells us how important the ocean waters off the Bay's mouth are to the Bay system as a whole. The movement of clean salt water between the Atlantic and the Chesapeake is just as critical as taking care of the freshwater tributaries that feed the Bay.

After recent progress in bringing back oysters, underwater grasses, and cleaner and clearer water, drilling would add a new and dangerous threat to the health of the Bay. It's just not worth the risk. 

This goes even beyond potential environmental disasters. The Department of Defense and NASA have also raised concerns about the problems they would face from drilling off the Atlantic Coast. "The Navy and NASA have repeatedly said that Outer Continental Shelf drilling could significantly affect their abilities to carry out training and testing activities in support of America's national security and strategic interests," Virginia Congressmen Gerry Connolly, Bobby Scott, and Don Beyer said in a letter to the Interior Department last year. The congressmen noted that nearly 80 percent of the proposed leasing area off Virginia's coast would interfere with U.S. Navy training and operations, according to a Defense Department report.

Celebrating the latest news, last week Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam emphasized the many economic dangers posed by drilling. The announcement "is a big win for Virginians," he said in a statement. He noted that "40 percent of Hampton Roads' economy is tied to defense-related activities. Tourism and aquaculture generate billions of dollars for the Commonwealth. We cannot afford to jeopardize these important industries that are all tied to the health of our coastal waters."

Here at CBF, Virginia Executive Director Rebecca LePrell applauded the decision against oil and gas drilling off the coast of Virginia, emphasizing that it is the right move for the Chesapeake. "The Bay is on a path toward recovery with the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint," she said. "The benefits from chasing petroleum resources on the Atlantic Coast do not justify risking what could be dire consequences for the ecology and economy of the Mid-Atlantic region."

—Kenny Fletcher, CBF's Virginia Communications Coordinator

This is a huge win for Virginia and for clean water. Click here to send a thank you to President Obama for making the right call.

 


What's Bill Seeing in the Field: A Sure Sign of Spring

For more than 30 years, CBF Educator and photographer Bill Portlock has been exploring, documenting, and teaching the wonders of the Chesapeake and its rivers and streams. With his vast, intimate knowledge and experience with the watershed, we thought who better to check in with about what he's seeing in the field right now . . .

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I found this spotted turtle around 10 a.m. on March 17 resting on a bridge over the Mattaponi River in Caroline County. The sky was clear and the turtle appeared to be gathering warmth from the sun on the cement. Cold-blooded reptiles often regulate their body temperatures this way. However, he was in a precarious location with turtle speed no match for passing cars and trucks. So I stopped to help him to a safer place. I also had my camera with me. I knew it was an uncommon turtle and did not want to disturb him for long, nor certainly remove him from his territory, but did want to document the species in Caroline County as well as share another sure sign of spring with my friends: a turtle emerging from hibernation.

Turtle2The spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) is a relatively small, rare, omnivorous freshwater turtle of Eastern North America, with an adult's shell typically about five inches long. Its upper black shell is overlaid with an irregular, attractive pattern of yellow-orange spots that define the species. Males have brown eyes and a female's eyes are yellow. Males also have a concave plastron (under shell) whose shape is thought to facilitate mating. Spotted turtles seem to occur in small, localized populations with each having three to four different feeding territories—so they do move around. These turtles feed on algae and aquatic vegetation, insect larvae, worms, slugs, spiders, crustaceans, tadpoles, small fish—always eating in water. Males are actively looking for a mate right now, too.

Mid-March is the time spotted turtles emerge from winter sleep. From October to March they live underground and sometimes underwater, buried in mud Turtle4beneath muskrat lodges or sphagnum moss, with other spotted turtles in what is known as a hibernacula. They seem to have strong fidelity to these sites year after year. Surprisingly, they lose little body weight during these months of inactivity. Their peak time of activity is March through June, followed by summer inactivity. See below for more particulars on their habitat and biology.

Students on CBF education programs encounter species of aquatic turtles frequently. Red-bellied cooters, painted turtles, mud- and musk turtles, and even snapping turtles are common freshwater turtles. Spotted turtles are more rare and deserve our care and attention to making our watershed healthy by stopping polluted runoff. Just as with many other species, the presence of a spotted turtle is a welcome indicator of a healthy environment.

—Photographs and Text by Bill Portlock, CBF Senior Educator

Habitat
Spotted turtles prefer unpolluted, slow-moving, shallow waters of ponds, swamps, bogs, fens, marshes, vernal pools, and wet sedge meadows with a soft underlying bottom of mud. Sphagnum moss, sedge tussocks, cattails, water lilies, and hydrophilic ("water-loving") shrubs are important components of the preferred aquatic habitats used by spotted turtles. They travel over uplands, too, when seeking other aquatic feeding territories or as females look for suitable nest sites.

Biology
Spotted turtles aggregate in aquatic habitats in spring (usually in May) to mate. Nesting occurs from mid- to late June. Clutch sizes are usually 3-5 eggs. Most females do not produce eggs every year. The turtles reach sexual maturity when they are 11-15 years old. Summer dormancy, primarily in terrestrial sites, occasionally takes place from July through August and into September, after which turtles enter hibernation. These turtles live to at least 30 years old and can exceed 50 years.

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Video of the Week: Why We Do What We Do

For nearly 50 years, we have fought vigilantly for healthy rivers, clean streams, and a restored Chesapeake Bay. Watch this video, courtesy of Discovery Communications, to see just how far we've come. And learn why saving the Bay and its rivers and streams is so important to the health of our economy, communities, and way of life both here and across the globe.

 

With your help, we can finish the job and show the world that we can restore a national treasure like the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. Please help us spread the Save the Bay message to your friends and family on social media. And thank you for joining us in what is perhaps the most important clean water movement of our time. 

—Emmy Nicklin
CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media