Welcome to the latest installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week, we take a question submitted on the Chesapeake Bay Program website or a frequently asked question and answer it here for all to read.
This week’s question is one many people ask this time of year, especially during the recent heat wave when they will be trying to cool off on and in the water: “How can you tell where in the bay sea nettles will be this summer?”
Sea nettles (Chrysaora quinquecirrha) are the most abundant jellyfish in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries. These whitish-colored jellies soar in numbers in summer and can be a pesky (and painful) nuisance to swimmers. But thankfully, scientists can predict when and where sea nettles will be present in the Chesapeake Bay based on environmental conditions.
Scientists use a computer model to predict the probability of encountering these stinging jellies in your local river or favorite Bay swimming hole. The computer model compares salinity, water temperature and sea nettle density data from the spring, summer and fall of 1987-2000.
Based on this data, scientists found that sea nettles prefer water temperatures ranging from 78.8 - 86 degrees Fahrenheit and a salinity of 10-16 PSU (practical salinity units). For comparison, seawater has an average PSU of 35 and tidal fresh water has a PSU of less than .5. So when conditions in the Bay are within these temperature and salinity ranges, you will likely encounter sea nettles.
NOAA has created a sea nettle presence probability map that displays the likelihood of encountering sea nettles throughout the Bay and its rivers. This is your best resource to beat the sting and see if sea nettles are present in your area.
Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and we might choose your question for the next Question of the Week! You can also ask us a question via Twitter by sending a reply to @chesbayprogram! Be sure to follow us there for all the latest in Bay news and events!
“It was a good day!”
This was the phrase several members of the Earth Conservation Corps used to describe the June 11 service learning day on the Chesapeake Bay. The Earth Conservation Corps (ECC) is a nonprofit youth development and environmental service organization located where the heavily polluted Anacostia River runs through Washington, D.C.’s most disadvantaged communities.
As a part of a partnership formed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), Corps members get to experience the Bay while learning about green jobs and careers.
As part of their service learning day, members aboard a NOAA vessel operated the drag net to collect blue crabs, mummichogs, flounders, anchovies and other species.
Along the shoreline of the Rhode River, Corps members did seine netting and compared the collected species to those collected from the vessel.
NOAA, SERC and EPA staff also discussed the types of habitats these species live in and highlighted the effects of upstream activities on the Bay and its aquatic life downstream.
This summer, Corps members will apply and interview for an internship program that includes more species sampling, identification and recording on the NOAA vessel, as well as participating in environmental outreach to kids who visit SERC.
Upon leaving SERC, Corps member Cory Palmer said, "That was all right!" Chesapeake Bay Program Acting Director Jim Edward, who also attended the service learning event, echoed Corey’s comment.
Other Corps members had similar positive things to say about the service learning day:
Harford County, Md., Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti has been elected chair of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC), a group of 21 local government officials who work to improve the role local governments play in Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts and broaden local government participation in the Bay Program.
Councilwoman Lisanti was elected to office in 2006, and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley appointed her to LGAC in 2009. During her professional career, she worked for the Maryland General Assembly, the Harford County Executive, and the Harford County Department of Planning and Zoning. She has also served as city manager of Havre de Grace, Md. and as vice president and president of the Maryland Association of City and County Managers. Additionally, Lisanti is the executive director of the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway.
Lisanti will now lead LGAC in its main task of advising the Chesapeake Executive Council, the Bay Program’s leadership body, about the best ways to engage local governments in Bay restoration. LGAC's current focus is advising the Bay Program on how to involve local governments in the development of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL.
"Seventeen million people call this watershed home and local government is the closest to those people," Councilwoman Lisanti said. "As a former city manager and now a small business manager and elected official, I feel keenly responsible for ensuring that local needs are identified and funded, and that clean-up efforts are focused on individual actions and shared responsibilities. Local government understands that Bay cleanup is all about our quality of life and economic development."
A record 1,668 Maryland farmers will plant more than 500,000 acres of winter grains on their fields this year through the state’s cover crop program, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. This is 155 percent of Maryland’s two-year milestone for cover crops.
Cover crops are a key component of restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay by reducing polluted runoff from farm fields. Farmers can plant grains such as wheat, rye and barley in the fall to absorb unused nutrients and control soil erosion.
“Maryland’s cover crop program has the potential to do more for the Bay than ever before,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “Maryland farmers are on track to exceed the two-year milestone for cover crops with record number of approved acres.”
In addition, the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) has received a $600,000 grant to implement a cover crop management tool, which will provide data for the Chesapeake Bay model. The tool will use remote sensing to see how efficiently fields planted with cover crops are absorbing nutrients. Farmers will receive reports about their fields from this tool so they can better manage cover crops in the future.
MDA has also launched a pilot program called Conservation Tracker, which will provide accurate accounting of best management practices (BMPs) on Maryland farms. Conservation Tracker will geo-reference farms that use BMPs and calculate their nutrient reduction credits.
The program, now being piloted in Talbot County, will ultimately help MDA target resources to areas that will achieve the greatest benefits to local waterways and the Bay, as well as help the state track and report on progress toward its pollution-reduction milestones through BayStat.