Tag Archives: eastern shore

oyster recovery partnership.

ORP project :: le compte bay, choptank river.

captain david leonard uses a power dredge to reclaim silt covered oyster shells.

every spring for the last few years maryland watermen have joined forces with the maryland department of natural resources (DNR) to rehabilitate the oyster beds throughout the chesapeake bay. oyster shell rehabilitation is a project that involves reclaiming silt-covered oyster shell from specifically targeted oyster reefs using power dredges.

established by the oyster recovery partnership (ORP), this project aims to restore oyster habitats through a “dredge and release” program – as the dredge drags along the bottom it breaks up oyster clusters, giving them more room to grow. it also jostles the shells and creates clean surfaces for the oyster spat to attach and develop.

ORP collaborates with management agencies, including DNR, NOAA, and the army corps of engineers, as well as individual experts and scientists to develop ways to increase oyster hatchery production across the region. in recent years ORP has enlisted maryland watermen, who they feel “have the necessary boats, equipment and knowledge of the bay to bring local experience and expertise to our projects.”

ironically, these watermen have been facing increased scrutiny for the aforementioned power dredging – blamed by many of the same experts for “destroying oyster beds.” when in fact, programs like ORP have proven that power dredging are good for the oyster beds and can possibly do more to restore oyster populations than sanctuaries. according to senator colburn “dredging works the bay bottom which in turn prevents oysters from being silted over which suffocates and kills them,” additionally, bunky chance, president of the talbot county watermen’s association confirms that “every place we have used this equipment, they’re [oysters] coming back. every place we’re not, they’re barren.”

chance also addressed recent legislation, such as the oyster restoration and aquaculture development plan which encourages private oyster cultivation and would arguably put the watermen out of business, in a piece that recently appeared in the baltimore sunoverfishing not to blame for oyster woes. he argues that “watermen have been doing aquaculture on their leased bottoms with little or no success for many years” and that “watermen are not against sanctuaries, aquaculture or what is being referred to as the “poachers” bill….What they are against is how the Department of Natural Resources has handled this new plan.”

the watermen simply want to continue working on the water and providing for their families. more than anyone they understand the problems facing the bay and agree that something must be done to help restore the oyster and crab populations. they have consistently demonstrated their adaptability and respect through cooperation with laws and regulations which pose strict limits on their season and catches. furthermore, by working with the DNR and ORP they have proven that their methods are non-destructive and, if given time, may prove to restore the oyster population after all.

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on the last day of the ORP’s oyster shell rehabilitation project i arrived at the oxford dock just after 5am and climbed aboard the workboat amy lynn. i introduced myself to captain david leonard and his son brian on the 45-minute trip along the choptank river to le compte bay where we would spend the day dredging along with dozens of other boats. for the next 8 hours i watched as david lowered the massive power dredge onto the bottom and retrieved countless heaps of oyster shells, rocks, mud, crabs, and occasional rubbish. he and brian would pour over each load, sifting through and tossing everything back overboard, returning it to the bottom. the project aims to break up oyster clusters and release the shells from heavy mud and silt so that spat can easy attach and grow. david noted that there were a good amount of oysters and felt the area would be good for harvest, if in fact the water was right for spat. recently the salinity has decreased in many areas, rendering the water too fresh for oysters to flourish. i appreciated how david shared his opinions and experiences over his life-long career as a watermen. i spent the entire day enthralled with the work and stories of this seasoned waterman – feeling a surge of anticipation each time he retrieved the dredge and even more passionate about the plight of this endangered trade.

i can’t thank the captain enough for taking me aboard amy lynn – it was a phenonmenal experience and i can’t wait to get back out on the water…next up, crabbing!


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…more from my on-going watermen project…

choptank to the railway :: neavitt to tilghman aboard the dreamer.

environmental matters committee :: SB 342 :: eastern shore watermen rally in support of senate bill 342.

oyster recovery partnership :: ORP project – le compte bay, choptank river.



Filed under documentary, eastern shore, photography, st michaels, watermen

choptank to the railway.

neavitt to tilghman aboard the dreamer.

day break on dreamer with captain johnny.

a few weeks ago i hit the waters of the bay for the first time aboard the workboat dreamer. captain johnny gowe guided us along the choptank river from the neavitt dock to the tilghman railway, where he was headed to work on his boat. during the week or so following oyster season, workboats fill the marina ready to be inspected, painted, repaired, and cleaned up before they start crabbing. ideally, the boats leave the water only once a year – their sturdy fiberglass hulls are able to weather the wicked winter ice that so easily damages the older, wooden boats.

en route to the marina railway we passed watermen getting a jump on the crabbing season which started earlier this month. i was impressed watching them steadily work the trotlines, catching blue crabs one at a time, swiftly flipping them from the net into the basket. in stark contrast, the clam boat looked far more complicated – with a conveyor belt system for retrieving and sorting the little razor clams that make excellent bait for crabbing.

no matter what they are catching – oysters, crabs, clams – watermen generally work alone, spending long, solitary days on the water and i loved this brief glimpse into their world.


*  *  *  *  *

…more from my on-going watermen project…

oyster recovery partnership :: ORP project – le compte bay, choptank river.

environmental matters committee :: SB 342 :: eastern shore watermen rally in support of senate bill 342.

choptank to the railway :: neavitt to tilghman aboard the dreamer.


Filed under documentary, eastern shore, photography, st michaels

halo’s haven rescue.

a refuge for horses on the eastern shore.

a few days ago i had the pleasure of meeting the absolutely incredbile michelle louis at her st. michael’s farm where she runs an amazing horse rescue. halo’s haven rescue is a rescue organization specifically focused on saving horses from auctions where they are sold for slaughter. together with local sponsors, louis recently rescued a gorgeous pregnant clydesdale as well as a pregnant miniature horse and brought them home to her farm. the clydesdale foal is now two weeks old and doing fantastic, and the mini is due any day now! this week i will be spending more time at halo’s haven learning about the mission and documenting the rescue process. these are just a few images of the horses i saw this weekend – so beautiful!



Filed under animals, eastern shore, photography, st michaels


oyster recovery partnership :: le compte bay, choptank river.

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Filed under documentary, eastern shore, photography

the watermen.

eastern shore watermen :: annapolis, md.


Filed under photography

shore life.

my new neighborhood.

the idyllic eastern shore :: claiborne, maryland.

it’s true! i’ve skipped town and am currently staying in an adorable little cottage on the chesapeake bay! for the next few months i’ll still be shooting in & around DC, but will be based in the quaint little town of st. michaels, maryland. in addition to relishing the small community and wonderful energy of the eastern shore, i’ll be learning about and documenting the life & work of the watermen – getting up close and involved with oyster dredging, crabbing, fishing, and working on the boats. after spending the last few weeks in africa sailing throughout the lamu archipelago i simply couldn’t transition back to city life…so i’m trying something new! photos of africa are coming soon (i promise! – polaroid sneak peek here) but for now, here’s a look at claiborne – the tiny, idyllic neighborhood i feel so lucky to have discovered…


sunset in my backyard…


Filed under eastern shore, just for fun, me, photography, st michaels