Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Meditation

After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on - have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear - what remains? Nature remains.
~ Walt Whitman

Sunset over the Piankatank River as seen from the Piankatank River Bridge


Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Meditation

"There is nothing--absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats."
- Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows, Ch. 1

"A man of wisdom delights in water."

 "Being on a boat that's moving through the water, it's so clear. Everything falls into place in terms of what's important and what's not."
~James Taylor 

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water."
~Loren Eiseley

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Netting a Shark

As a child, one of the greatest adventures while in Deltaville was bringing in the gill net.  As an adult I'm flabbergasted shocked mildly surprised that I though such hard work was actually enjoyable.  But when you're a kid, the prospect of catching something good got you going at 4:00 A.M. We'd stumble out of bed, pull on clothes and make our way bleary-eyed to Pepop's dock to climb aboard his green boat Pigpen.
While sticking our heads over the side of the boat and letting the waves soak our heads was great fun, the real thing that brought us out at the butt crack of dawn was the prospect of finding something spectacular in the gill net- namely- a shark.  

We always had hopes that we'd pull the net in and find ourselves face to face with Jaws.

Unfortunately, all we managed to find were small dogfish and some sandbar sharks.

While I've heard shark is "good eatin'", I'm not a fan of eating fish.  
Also, sharks seem to be in a different category than your everyday run of the mill spot or croaker.  
So we chopped them up and used them as crab bait.  
It isn't easy trying to crab with a hefty piece of shark meat on the end of the line.

Sharks at Haven Beach

This old fisherman caught a juvenile sand shark one evening as we were enjoying the beach (I have no clue why I didn't pull out my camera to take a photo of it).  He let the Brat Child touch its skin and told us he had caught about 12 sharks that week in total fishing from the rocks at Haven Beach.  We watched as he gently let the shark go back to the Bay.

  This was in sharp contrast to the gentleman who caught a juvenile sand shark this past August.  He did show it to my mother and the Brat Child as they walked by, and then he proceeded to gut it right there on the beach.  Now, I've heard that you have to clean a shark pretty soon after catching it if you want to use it for your supper.  However, I think throwing the guts into the area where people swim is slightly rude.  Especially when there were people actually swimming there.  Nothing says relaxation more than watching seagulls fly off with shark intestines dangling from their beaks.
You're welcome for that image.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sharks of the Chesapeake

If you weren't already slightly nervous about what types of things are swimming below the surface of the water at your favorite swimming spot, I'm about to make you that way.  
Here is a list in order of their threat to humans level (lowest to highest).

Smooth Dogfish-
Prefers shallow water where it scavenges and feeds on crustaceans and small fish.
Average 3-4 ft in length.
One of the most abundant sharks on the East Coast.
The dogfish poses no threat to humans due to its small size and blunt teeth.

 Hammerhead Shark-
Average size of 2-4ft though some range 6-13 ft.
Favorite food is stingrays.
Not considered a threat to humans.

Sandbar Shark caught by my mother
Sandbar Shark-
Found in grassy, shallow protected areas and sandbars.
Grows to 7ft but the juveniles that are typically found in the Bay are about 2-3 ft.
Visits the Chesapeake in the Summer and Autumn months.
Primarily found in the Virginia waters of the Bay but sometimes found in Maryland waters.
Most common shark found in the Bay.
The Chesapeake is the most important Sandbar Shark nursery on the East Coast.
There are very few reports of unprovoked attacks on humans.
Atlantic Sharpnose Shark-
Feeds on small bony fish, worms, and crabs.
Their mature size is around 3 feet long.
 They are considered a moderate threat to humans as they often come into contact with humans due to their habitat.
 However, most bites inflicted on humans by this shark are nonfatal and not serious.

Dusky Shark-
Migrates towards the Bay in the summer months.
One of the most sought after sharks for the fin trade.
Averages about 12ft in length.
Preys primarily on bluefish but feeds on many other species of fish, stingrays and crustaceans.
Considered a threat to humans due to its size.  
The International Shark Attack Files lists it as responsible for six attacks on people and boats, three of them unprovoked and one fatal (none in the Bay).

Nurse Shark-
Average size of 7-10ft but can reach 14ft.
They are nocturnal and are often found resting on the sea floor during the day.
Their diet consists of crustaceans, mollusks, small fish and stingrays.
They are bottom feeders.
Nurse sharks usually are non-aggressive and swim away rather than bite.
However, there have been unprovoked attacks reported by swimmers and divers.
Their bite is powerful and has a vice-like grip capable of serious injury.

Tiger Shark-
Named for the dark vertical stripes seen on juveniles.
Grow to 10-14 ft and live for 50 years.
Referred to as the "wastebasket of the sea" because of its reputation for eating anything, including trash.
Know as man-eaters, they are second only to Great Whites for number of attacks on humans.
And because they aren't picky eaters, they're less likely to swim away after biting a human unlike the Great White.
(We found a Tiger Shark tooth on the beach of Shark Tooth Island so they're around)

Bull Shark-
Average size is 7-12 ft.
Bull Sharks are known to be aggressive and are known to frequent shallow water.
They also spend time in brackish and freshwater and are probably responsible for most near-shore shark attacks attributed to other species.
Because bull sharks dwell in shallow water, they may be more dangerous to humans than any other sharks and along with Tiger sharks and Great Whites its among the top three sharks species most likely to attack humans.
Before you try to tell yourself Bull sharks couldn't possibly be found in the Chesapeake Bay, read this article about two 8ft Bull Sharks that were caught in the Potomac River.

According to the International Shark File, Virginia has had 5 total reports of unprovoked shark attacks with 1 of those being a fatal attack of a 10 year old boy back in 2001.  The attack occurred in the Atlantic Ocean near Virginia Beach in approximately 4 feet of water.  It's thought the shark was a Bull shark.

Happy Swimming!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shark Tooth Island

Located along the Rappahannock River, Shark Tooth Island (not an island unless you're referring the whole of North and South America as an island but this is the name the Brat Child gave it) is an area where people have been known to find, well, shark teeth.

These are the teeth we managed to find on our two trips to the beach.  
The larger has been identified as a tiger shark tooth. 
Midge was able to find the larger one just lying on the beach.
You can see the shell layers in the cliff
Finding the other two took some time sifting through a pile of sand.
The cliffs contain layers of prehistoric shells and teeth.
I'm looking forward to going back to see what else I can find!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Deltaville Shark Week

In honor of Shark Week, I'll be blogging about sharks.  It may be a literal blog about sharks, it might be only peripherally related to sharks, but one way or the other, I'll be blogging about them all week.  This being Monday and my usual day to include quotes to ponder... here are a few about sharks.

1 of 2 sharks my mother caught while fishing on vacation

I believe implicitly that every young man in the world is fascinated with either sharks or dinosaurs.
~Peter Benchly

This shark, swallow you whole. 
~Quint, Jaws
I am a nice shark, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food.  
~ Bruce the Shark, Finding Nemo