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The Environment in Focus with Tom Pelton
Several species of shorebirds that migrate along the Atlantic Coast are in decline, including whimbrels, whose numbers have plummeted by half over the last two decades. Scientists are trying to discover the causes--which could range from climate change to hunting--by attaching satellite transmitters to whimbrels and following them to their nesting grounds in Canada and Alaska.
Although many people think of Maryland as the blue crab capital of the world, more than 90 percent of the crab meat sold here is not from the Chesapeake Bay. To encourage more truth in advertising and jobs in local crab-related industries, Maryland officials are launching a "True Blue" program to certify which restaurants (including VIN 909 in Annapolis, shown above with co-owner Justin Moore) sell real Chesapeake crab.
Photo of Atlantic killifish from Virginia Tech College of Natural Resources
An ancient arms race on the ocean's bottom pits shell crushers, such as blue crabs, against shell builders, such as clams and oysters. Research by Justin Ries of the University of North Carolina (above) concludes that carbon dioxide pollution creates acidic conditions that accelerate shell growth for the predators but slows down the building of shell defenses by their prey.
Southern Maryland environmental activist Bonnie Bick and her allies won a major victory when they defeated a highway project that would have brought sprawling suburban development to the forests and wetlands around Mattawoman Creek, one of the most fertile fish breeding grounds in the Chesapeake Bay region. But efforts to stop sprawl in Charles County triggered a fierce backlash from the development lobby.
Photo of juvenile blue crab from Chesapeake Bay Program.
For the last 15 years, Professor Wolfgang Vogelbein of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science has been working to discover the causes of mycobacteriosis, a chronic wasting disease that infects a majority of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay. He believes the disease could be linked to pollution and overfishing -- but now his federal funding is about to run out, before he can finally solve the puzzle.