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Maryland Crabbing

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Smith Island is a lonely outpost twelve miles out in the lower Chesapeake Bay. The shallow grassy waters around the cluster of islands that comprise Smith Island are some of the best Blue Crab habitat in the Bay. For more than 300 years, the people here have endured nature's hardships. But increasingly they sense that a more precarious future lies ahead. The water men are bringing in smaller catches, and profits are down. The population has dropped from more than 800 to about 300 over the last 100 years. And Smith Island is losing its land. Most of the island is only one foot above sea level. The higher areas where the people live are just two to four feet above the water. Coastal ecologists say the Chesapeake Bay has risen by more than a half foot over the past century, and continues to swallow the land. Crumbling wooden crab shacks and battered bulkheads are testimony to the island's vulnerability to the sea. To help the islanders best back the bay, the Army Corps of Engineers launched a plan to install new bulkheads and stone breakwater around Tylerton, part of a multi-million dollar plan to slow erosion and persuade people to stay. despite this project, Smith Island may be running out of time. If a hurricane category 4 comes up and actually hits this island, I think it could be flattened. It probably is the case that, over the next century, that if we can't get control of greenhouse gases, that we probably will have a few high spots but not much more. Most people hope that the new efforts to stem erosion can at least delay the inevitable, so that one or two more generations can make a living here at the edge of the sea.

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes and 11 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: National Geographic
Director: National Geographic
Views: 101
Posted by: greenbo on Mar 30, 2010

The crabbers' island is sinking into the sea

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