If you’re suffering from a bit of coronavirus fatigue — and if you’re already working from home anyway — allow us to turn your attention to another, more pleasant C word: Chesapeake.
Through Saturday, Maryland Public Television is celebrating its 16th annual Chesapeake Bay Week, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22.
MPT is showing 22 hours of programming celebrating the Bay’s history, people, natural resources and efforts to protect its diverse ecosystem. You can access any and all shows at your convenience at mpt.org/livestream.
The cornerstone program is “Chesapeake Beacons,” offering views of lighthouses on the Bay few have ever seen. Filmed with bird’s-eye aerials and up-close and personal tours that capture their beauty, the show visits a dozen lighthouses, and viewers can learn why each unique beacon came into existence, how it was built, and explore their legends and lore. The short documentary covers structures from the twin Cape Henry lighthouses near Virginia Beach at the mouth of the bay, north to the Turkey Point Lighthouse at its headwaters in Cecil County.
You also can enjoy “Tidewater,” about the Hampton Roads area’s vulnerability to sea level rise; “A Voice for the Rivers,” dealing particularly with how tributaries on the Eastern Shore are being choked of light, oxygen, underwater grasses and estuarine life, and what scientists are doing about it; and “Shad Run,” a program covering how the Potomac, which used to “run silver” with the fish each spring, have survived overfishing, pollution and dam construction to rally.
Showing tonight will be “Nassawango Legacy” at 7:30 p.m., an ode to an arm of the Pocomoke River; “Cold Stunned“ at 7:45, about the work to save sea turtles and return them to warmer waters; and “Oysterfest“ at 8:30. That is a series of three short films in celebration of the bay’s best bivalve.
Hopefully, the trend for the Chesapeake is one of improvement. An annual report that is designed to gauge the effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay to its once-pristine condition was released last month. The Chesapeake Bay Program called its Bay Barometer a “science-based snapshot” offering “the most up-to-date information about the environmental health and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.”
The 37-year-old Annapolis-based program’s latest report is for 2018-2019, and among the positive finds is that “the 2019 baywide winter dredge survey suggests the population of blue crabs increased nearly 60% from 372 million in 2018 to 594 million in 2019.” In the area of “blue crab management,” the program stated, “according to the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee, an estimated 23% of the female blue crab population was harvested in 2018. For the 11th consecutive year, the number is below the 25.5% target and the 34% overfishing threshold. Therefore, the crab population is not considered depleted or overfished.”
“What we are trying to do is change an entire ecosystem,” said Thomas Miller, professor and director of Chesapeake Biological Laboratory University of Maryland for Environmental Science in Solomons. “That’s not a small challenge.”
Indeed, we owe a lot to that wonderful ditch that rends Maryland in two. Two “shores,” but a common love of our unique estuary. Let this week’s MPT programming inspire us to keep up the good fight.