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What's Bill Seeing in the Field: Slick Cam

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 . . .

Waterman David Melville harvests clams on "slick cam" (slick calm) waters near Gwynn's Island the day after Thanksgiving.

The waterman works aboard his well-maintained deadrise Third Son, using patent tongs to harvest clams. The hydraulic tongs are operated with foot pedals, one to open and close the tongs, the other to raise and lower them. The patent tongs are lowered to the Bay floor where they extract a clump of Bay bottom, with clams included. The hard clams or quahogs (also known as little necks, cherrystones, or chowders based on their size) can live 40 years or more if they escape predation.

In 1758, Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist Carl Linnaeus, who formalized the modern system of naming organisms called binomial nomenclature, gave the quahog its scientific name Mercenaria mercenaria because beads of quahog shell, fashioned by Native Americans, were used for currency in 17th century New England. "Mercenaria," is derived from the Latin word for wage.

—Photographs and Text by Bill Portlock, CBF Senior Educator

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




Photo of the Week: Gone for Winter

Image1Taken just the other week during the Thanksgiving holiday.

A Thanksgiving postcard from the middle of the Bay.

The blessing of mild weather and a calm Bay gave us an opportunity to make one last run for the season in Nana's skiff before Thanksgiving dinner.

Seen here, an osprey nest on the Uppards area of Tangier Island sits vacant, a sure sign that winter can't be too far off. We look forward to seeing these beautiful birds again next year.

—Suzanne M. Pruitt 

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

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!

This Week in the Watershed: A Cold Dip for the Bay

The moment a bunch of crazy Bay lovers (including dogs!) dashed towards the frigid Bay waters to thank our generous members for their support on Giving Tuesday. Photo by Elaine Lutz/CBF Staff.

For the second straight year, a bunch of CBF staffers took a dip into the frigid waters of the Chesapeake Bay as a thank you to the hundreds of generous CBF members who gave on Giving Tuesday.

Since 2012, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving has been recognized as Giving Tuesday. Fueled by social media, this global day of giving raises tens of millions of dollars for various causes. This year we far exceeded our $15,000 goal.

In 2016:

  • We gave 40,000 students and teachers unforgettable experiences on our rivers, streams, and Bay;
  • Planted more than 46 million water-filtering oysters on reefs and 17,000 trees across the region; and
  • Worked with 386 farmers and landowners to install conservation practices to reduce agricultural pollution.

The money raised on Giving Tuesday will help us do that, and more, in 2017!

P.S. Did you miss out on Giving Tuesday? Not to fear: Our special dollar-for-dollar match lasts through the end of the year. Click here to learn more and to show your love for the Bay and its rivers and streams!

This Week in the Watershed: Fish Talks, Reducing Runoff, and Poop Rules

  • Localities throughout Pennsylvania Fees are embracing fees to reduce stormwater runoff. (ABC 27—PA)
  • Some environmentalist are alarmed by the apparent weakening of manure pollution rules on Maryland's Eastern Shore. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • Often called "the most important fish in the sea," menhaden will be front and center as the topic of two meetings in Hampton Roads, VA next week. (The Virginian-Pilot—VA) Bonus: Register for the Blue Planet Forum, 12/6!
  • A group of sixth-graders had a fun day full of learning outside at CBF's Brock Environmental Center. (The Virginian-Pilot—VA)
  • We love these enthusiastic fourth-graders who helped us build a rain garden in Hampton, VA. (Daily Press—VA)

What's Happening around the Watershed?

December 3

  • Broadway, VA: Come on out and help us plant hundreds of native trees and shrubs on a picturesque farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Volunteers should bring a sun hat, sun screen, and work gloves. Volunteers are also asked to bring a packed lunch. This planting event is suitable for children closely supervised by adults. Click here to register! Registration is closed.

December 6

  • Norfolk, VA: Join us for a presentation on what is often called,"the most important fish in the sea"—menhaden. An expert panel will discuss why menhaden matter and future prospects for the fishery. This event is part of the Blue Planet Forum—a free environmental lecture series with a mission to educate and engage the public on important environmental issues affecting Hampton Roads and the nation. The event is free, but registration is requested—Register here!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate