Photo of the Week: Summer Storm Over Horn Harbor


This is a 30-second exposure taken from our pier last Friday evening in Peary, Virginia, overlooking the Chesapeake Bay.

This storm rolled down the Mobjack Bay and took direct aim at Cape Charles. The lightning strike is directly over Cape Charles.

I travel weekly for work all over North America. Likewise, my family is very active, going in different directions all week long. Every Friday when we cross the bridges in West Point on our way to Mathews County, we simply relax and begin to enjoy the peace, quiet, and solitude of the Chesapeake Bay. I grew up on the Bay as a kid, and I'm so thankful that I can raise my children on that same Bay today almost 50 years later!

—Scott Phillips

Ensure that Scott and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!


Photo of the Week: "Love" at Cape Charles


This is of my family at the Chesapeake Bay at Cape Charles, Virginia. This has been our vacation spot for years. I have been going there for about 30 years, [since I was two-years-old]. I now am blessed to be able to share it with my husband, 10-year-old son, and 5-year-old daughter. We love the "at home" atmosphere of Cape Charles, the semi-private beach, natural abundance, and fishing opportunities.

—Brandie Gilbert

Ensure that Brandie, her family, and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!


Underwater Beauty

I like to think of wild celery as an underwater plant fit for the Disney princess Ariel. Its Kelly Green color, smooth and straight blades, and undulating motion are inherent in the picture-perfect world of Disney—and in clean rivers and streams.

This beauty and unmissable ecological value drives hundreds of Virginians each year to grow wild celery at home, January through June, and then plant the vegetation at restoration sites in the late spring and summer. These grasses or Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) have a slew of benefits: They serve as habitat and food source for critters, reduce wave action to prevent erosion and protect shorelines, filter pollutants and sediment out of the water column, and oxygenate our waterways. Unfortunately, algal blooms and sediment block sunlight—reducing total acreage of grasses to roughly only 20 percent of historic levels.

That's where CBF's Grasses for the Masses program comes in! The process, while rewarding for growers and the underwater critters that depend on them, is an equally heartbreaking occasion akin to sending your 18-year-old off to college. The grasses, once planted, must go off into the world and survive on their own.

This year, 279 volunteers from all walks of life participated in our Grasses for the Masses program, devoting nearly a half of their year to growing 40,000 grass seeds and planting them across roughly 30 square meters in Virginia rivers! We are only more encouraged by the recent news of the rebounding of grasses, which are up by 20 percent across the Bay. Programs like these along with pollution-reduction efforts are working. 

No matter how long I've been a part of this critical program, its the passion and commitment of our volunteers to restoring underwater grasses and clean, healthy Chesapeake waters that never ceases to amaze me. Take a look at the photos below to see their extraordinary work in action, and make sure to join us next year!

—Blair Blanchette, CBF's Virginia Grassroots Coordinator 

CBF VA Senior Scientist Chris Moore braved Hurricane Joaquin in October 2015 to collect grass seeds for the 2016 season. Seeds are located in a vanilla bean-shaped pod attached to the plant by a pig’s tail curly cue. Photo by Chris Moore/CBF Staff.
After attending one of 10 CBF workshops across Virginia, growers take home their kits, grass seed, and new knowledge of how to grow underwater grasses. Albert Bingenheimer and his daughter prepare the soil/sand mixture for their grasses. Photo courtesy of Albert Bingenheimer.
Grower Leslie Mead took full advantage of her ping pong table, which was capable of holding the weight of three kits and lamps. Photo courtesy of Leslie Mead.
CBF's Outreach and Advocacy Manager Ann Jurczyk and Senior Scientist Chris Moore use a pole driver to repair the struts on the Mason Neck State Park grass enclosure that had been damaged during the winter freeze. The PVC struts hold netting that prevents geese from landing and eating the wild celery grass. Photo by Blair Blanchette/CBF Staff.
CBF Grassroots Coordinator Blair Blanchette repositions the "Bay Oyster" boat for use in repair of the Mason Neck State Park enclosure as Regional Coordinator Ashley Reams and CBF Staff Scientist Chris Moore look on. Photo courtesy of Blair Blanchette/CBF Staff.
Ready to plant underwater grasses at Mason Neck State Park! Photo courtesy of Blair Blanchette/CBF Staff.
Albemarle County Environmental Studies Academy teacher Adam Mulcahy leads his three students into the water to plant underwater grasses at Mason Neck State Park. Behind Adam’s students, you can see Heroes on the Water preparing for their own event. Needless to say, the fishermen were pleased with the plantings. Photo courtesy of Rock Kulisch.
Grower and Arlington Mill High School teacher Sharon Ruggieri shows off her beautiful grass roots. Strong roots are critical to the restoration process. Photo courtesy of Blair Blanchette/CBF Staff.
First-time grower Al Bingenheimer proudly displays his record-setting underwater grasses during a Westover Plantation planting. Not even grey weather could dampen the spirits of this Proud Papa! Photo courtesy of Blair Blanchette/CBF Staff.
After the grass plantings are over, growers clean their equipment to prepare it for next year's use. At this Mason Neck State Park planting on May 14, more than 50 kits were returned and more than 25 square feet of grass planted! Photo courtesy of Rock Kulisch.
After the planting is all said and done, the grass restoration plots are left to grow and create seeds to restore the waterway. Turtles like these Eastern Painted Turtles benefit from the food and shelter provided by underwater grasses. Photo courtesy of Rock Kulisch.

Photo of the Week: Pink Sky on Nandua Creek

2016-06-11 09.58.59
Living within walking distance of one of the best sunset viewing spots ever, I get many, many great photos but this recently snapped shot has become a new favorite! After enjoying a cookout at my house with my son and family, we noticed the pink sky and jumped in the golf cart to catch what was left of the sunset. That's my four-year-old grandson playing on the dock while his father gave a neighbor an assist with his jet skis. This beautiful spot is on Nandua Creek, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, on Virginia's gorgeous Eastern Shore.

What do the Bay and its waters mean to me? Oh goodness, what don't they mean?! I've lived on or near such bodies of water since I was 10. Boating, skiing, fishing, crabbing, playing, relaxing. Now I'm teaching grandchildren to play in and around [the Bay and its rivers] and to respect these beautiful bodies of water!

—Leesa Walker

Ensure that Leesa, her grandchildren, and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!


The Importance of Clean Water to Herd Health

Nordstrom April 2016On his first week on the job as a veterinarian back in 1993, Scott Nordstrom treated a case that would stick with him the rest of his life. Shockingly, half of a herd of cattle he examined had died. It turned out that they had been struck by Bovine Viral Disease (BVD), a fatal condition transmitted from the intestines of one animal to the mouth of another.

So Nordstrom set about finding out how they got the disease. The next week, he was called to a farm just upstream with another case of BVD. He traced the source of the outbreak to that operation. "The stream carried the pathogens downstream, spreading it from one farm to the next," according to Nordstrom.

Since then, he's found time and again that as long as cattle are allowed into waterways they are at risk of catching diseases from farms upstream. "The biosecurity program for your cattle herd is no better than the worst farm upstream," says Nordstrom, who is Director of Cattle Technical Services for an animal health company. "If there is a disease outbreak in the herd upstream or even if they are just carriers of infectious organisms and they defecate in the stream, your animals are at risk if they drink from that stream."

Nordstrom travels all over the country to test vaccines for his animal health company. "In the large operations I have been on, they would never, ever, consider having their animals exposed to a stream or any other body of water," he says. "It's just too risky—for both livestock and people."

"Clearly, at least 50 percent of all cattle diseases in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are transmitted through the fecal-oral pathway," stresses Nordstrom. "Several of the big diseases in cattle are carried by water. These include BVD, E.coli, salmonella, leptospirosis, and mastitis." Symptoms of these diseases include fever, lethargy, dehydration, abortion, and death.

Vaccinating animals is a first line of defense against many diseases. But Nordstrom stresses that "the second line of defense is to fence livestock out of potentially infected waters."

There are many programs that include funding and technical assistance to help producers fence waterways and provide alternative sources of water for drinking. Nordstrom participated in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program on his own farm. "We did it for herd health reasons and, besides, I feel good that the water leaving our farm is not going to infect animals downstream," he says.

—Bobby Whitescarver  
Whitescarver lives in Swoope, Va. For more information, visit his website.

Learn more about how farmers across the watershed are working to improve both water quality and farm productivity in our Farmers' Success Stories series.


Photo of the Week: No Better Place on Earth Than Here


Sunset on the Great Wicomico River, just after witnessing a large pod of dolphins playing near Reedville. An awesome day from start to finish.

I grew up spending weekends in Reedville on the Northern Neck. My memories of crabbing, fishing, and swimming were so wonderful. I bought a cottage on Whays Creek in 2002 to continue the family tradition. We spend every weekend exploring the Chesapeake Bay—kayaking, fishing, and taking photos of sunrises and sunsets! We love the Chespeake Bay and the peace and beauty she provides.

There is no better place on earth than here.

—Sharon Sylvia

Ensure that Sharon and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign], along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!

Making a Difference with Día de la Bahía

Haz clic aquí para la versión en Español.

Oscar Contreras
Oscar Contreras and family.

Among the thousands of volunteers across Virginia who came together on Clean the Bay Day, this year there was a big presence from the Hispanic community. Like every year of the past 28 years, volunteers got together to clean up trash from beaches and parks with rivers and streams that reach the Chesapeake Bay. But for the first time we launched bilingual sites for this Virginian tradition, which is now also known as Día de la Bahía.

Oscar Contreras took his two kids to Pocahontas State Park, where from a canoe they picked up trash. "Across human history, the perfect place to start a civilization has always been near rivers and beautiful places. These rivers feed the Bay, taking water with them. Unfortunately, they also carry trash. That affects the Bay and the environment," Contreras said in his radio program Community Focus on Radio Poder WBTK.

The Richmond area had two bilingual sites in this massive cleanup campaign, including Ancarrow's Landing and Pocahontas State Park. In total, more than 50 volunteers from the Hispanic community helped out, with most of them coming from Richmond's Sacred Heart Center.

Karina Murcia and her mother Dania Hernandez
Karina Murcia and her mother Dania Hernandez.

It was early on a hot Saturday morning, but the volunteers still came. They wanted to take care of the environment and animals, to raise awareness, to feel proud after helping, and to contribute to the community.

Many people came with the whole family, picking up bottles, plastic, fishing line, clothing, aluminum, and even construction materials.Dania Hernández was surprised by how much trash she found at Ancarrow's Landing. "It's a lot of trash. It's sad how people can destroy the environment," Hernández said. But she hopes that she's making a difference. "The people who are here fishing see that we are picking up trash. I hope that we're raising awareness so that they don't just leave their trash behind, but instead pick up any they have with them."

Marvin C (pink shirt) and Friends
Marvin C. (far right) and friends.

Karina Murcia is nine years old and was very happy to help. "I like what we're doing. It's really important to me," Karina says. "The animals need to live, and if they eat bad things they could die."

Alicia is only 13 years old, but she knows exactly why she came to help. "We are cleaning up because eventually if it rains it's going to wash off to the river. Fishing season is coming and if the fish eats it then we are going to eat it," Alicia says. "Because the weather and the erosion will take this trash into the water, it's going to be dangerous."

Many volunteers said they felt really good after the cleanup, including Marvin Cáceres, originally from Honduras. "After you finish you feel proud of yourself, just because you know that you are saving nature," according to Cáceres. "It is my first time doing this, I wasn't familiar with the Foundation or the program. But I really like it because we can show our kids and they are going to pass it on. Save the Bay, brother!"

—Ana Martínez


Haciendo la Diferencia en el Día de la Bahía

Click here for the English translation of the following blog post.

Oscar Contreras
Oscar Contreras y su familia.

Entre los miles de voluntarios que se reunieron para Clean the Bay Day en Virginia, este año contamos con un gran acto de presencia de la comunidad hispana. De hecho, por primera vez a esta tradición se le conoce como Día de la Bahía. Como cada año por 28 años consecutivos, los voluntarios se reunieron para limpiar basura tirada en las playas y parques con ríos y arroyos que llegan a la Bahía de Chesapeake.

Oscar Contreras llevó a sus hijos a Pocahontas State Park, donde desde una canoa buscaron remover basura. “En la historia humana los lugares perfectos para comenzar una civilización siempre han sido alrededor de los ríos y lugares hermosos. Estos ríos se desembocan en la Bahía, llevan agua, pero lamentablemente también llevan la basura. Eso afecta a la bahía y al medio ambiente,” dice Contreras en su programa de radio enfoque a la comunidad en Radio Poder WBTK.

Marvin C (pink shirt) and Friends
De derecho a izquierda: Marvin C., Juan Ortiz y Ricardo O.

Este año en la campaña de limpieza masiva contamos con dos sitios bilingües: Ancarrow's Landing y Pocahontas State Park. En total más de 50 voluntarios de la comunidad hispana del área de Richmond asistieron a ayudar. La gran mayoría vinieron de Sacred Heart Center en Richmond.

Era un sábado muy temprano en la mañana y con mucho calor. Pero a los voluntarios presentes les motivaron diferentes cosas, desde cuidar el medio ambiente y los animales, crear más conciencia, sentir orgullo después de ayudar y aportar positivamente a la comunidad.

Dania Hernández estaba impresionada por la cantidad de basura que encontró en Ancarrow’s Landing.  “Es mucha basura. Es lamentable como las personas pueden destruir el medio ambiente,” dice Hernández. Pero espera que está haciendo la diferencia. “La gente que está aquí pescando, nos ve que estamos recogiendo basura, y espero que con esto estamos creando conciencia que no la tiren y que recojan la basura que tengan consigo.”

Karina Murcia and her mother Dania Hernandez
Karina Murcia y su mamá Dania Hernández.

Muchos llegaron con toda la familia, recogiendo botellas, plástico, hilo de pesca, ropa, aluminio, y hasta desechos de construcción.

Karina Murcia tiene nueve años de edad y estaba feliz de poder ayudar ese día. “Me gusta lo que estamos haciendo, es muy importante para mí,” dice Karina. “Los animales necesitan vivir, si comen cosas malas para ellos se pueden morir.” 

Alicia tiene apenas trece años y sabe perfectamente por que vino a ayudar. “Estamos limpiando porque eventualmente cuando llueva la basura va a llegar al río, y así llega a los peces, la temporada de pesca viene y nos vamos a comer esa basura,” dice Alicia. “La lluvia y la erosión harán que esa basura llegue al agua y será peligroso.”

Los voluntarios se sentían muy bien al final de la campaña de limpieza, como Marvin Cáceres originario de Honduras. “Nos sentimos orgullosos porque nos damos cuenta que estamos salvando la naturaleza," según Cáceres. “Es la primera vez que hago esto, no estaba familiarizado con la Fundación Chesapeake Bay ni con el programa. Pero me gusta mucho porque podemos enseñar a nuestros hijos y ellos van a empezar una tradición. Invito a todos a salvar la Bahía, brother!”

—Ana Martínez




Life on the Chickahominy

Late spring is a heady time on the Chickahominy River. Thick cypress trees with knobby knees rise out of dark, tannin-stained waters. Vibrant yellow prothonotary warblers flit among the greening trees and blooming wildflowers. Occasionally, the river's surface explodes as a toothy chain pickerel makes a meal out of an unwary fish. The river, which winds through the forests to the east of Richmond, courses across classic Southern swamps on Virginia's Coastal Plain. 

In mid-May, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation partnered with Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality to canoe the Chickahominy with the Watershed Educators Institute, made up of field educators from organizations across Virginia. Below is just a glimpse of that beautiful day out on the water . . . 

 —Text and photos by Kenny Fletcher, CBF's Virginia Communications Coordinator

Paddlers gaze up at an osprey nest high in an old cypress tree. Osprey pairs usually mate for life and often return to the same nest year after year.
River and forest merge on the Chickahominy, allowing intrepid canoeists to explore watery passageways among the trees.
CBF Educator Alex McCrickard examines a yellow drake mayfly that had fallen into the river.
A feisty mud turtle comes out of its shell.
A fisherman shows off a bright yellow perch reeled in from a dock along the Chickahominy.
Field educators examine fish caught in a seine net pulled near the river's shore.
A small colorful sunfish pulled from the Chickahominy shines in the May light.


6,000 Virginians Giving Back to the Bay

IMG_20160604_102908Saturday June 4 marked the 28th Annual Clean the Bay Day, a yearly seismic eruption of volunteers, all descending on waterways throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia to give a little back. And all those small individual efforts had a massive cumulative effect once again.

As CBF's single largest annual clean-up event—and one of the largest volunteer programs in Virginia—Clean the Bay Day brought several thousand people together to clean up harmful debris and litter from hundreds of miles of streams and shoreline in just three short hours!

In the birthplace of the program, all seven cities of the Hampton Roads area were absolutely overflowing with volunteers. The Navy had a precedent-setting turnout and even ran out of places to clean! Every state park in the Chesapeake watershed in Virginia (22 total) fielded clean-up teams. Our clean-up sites in Richmond and Charlottesville specifically saw a tremendous spike in volunteers this year. And we had our first bilingual "Día de la Bahía" clean-up event, which attracted more than 50 volunteers from the Richmond-area Latino community. Clean the Bay Day also helped kick off the very first #ChesapeakeBay Awareness Week, which continues through June 12. The enormity of this event never ceases to amaze.

NewNumbers are still rolling in, but here are the impressive stats that we've tallied thus far from the day's events:

  • Approximately 6,000 volunteers;

  • Roughly 138,000 pounds of debris removed;

  • More than 440 miles of streams and shoreline cleaned; 

  • All in just three hours;

  • A mix of 20 elected officials (federal, state, and local), government appointees, and more participated; DSC_0578

  • Approximately 25 organizations participated;

  • 13 military installations took part, including more than 1,200 enlisted and their families;

  • 22 Virginia State Parks participated; 

  • 265 clean-up sites across Virginia.

As usual, the most common items found during the cleanup were plastic bottles, plastic bags, and cigarette butts. But household appliances, automobile parts (especially tires), furniture, shopping 1carts, ghost crab pots, and construction debris were a big part of the overall yield. Volunteers were also surprised by many strange finds including a lottery ticket station, a crock pot, a jet ski, a complete car transmission and an axle, multiple mattresses, a teddy bear with Mardi Gras beads, an enormous stuffed bear, a headless G.I. Joe doll, a taxidermy deer head, a screen door, a smart phone, a walkie-talkie, and two kitchen sinks.

Since 1989, Clean the Bay Day has engaged approximately 146,000 volunteers who have removed more than 6.4 million pounds of debris from more than 6,900 miles of shoreline.

—Tanner Council, Hampton Roads Grassroots Coordinator

Check out more photos from the day in our Facebook Photo Album.