Reflections from the Shore

Great Egret
A Great Egret photo taken by Jackie R.

A blog post by Jackie R., a regular contributor to the blog and an Academy Apprentice, reflecting on her vacation to the beach.

Upon my return from the beach this past week, my mind is full of amazing experiences: not of riding amusement rides, shopping in stores right up against the beach, or digging in sand full of trash. These experiences are associated with wildlife and the picturesque coastal environments in which they live. Unfortunately, nowadays many of our beaches have been commercialized and development has completely altered their ecological role. At the Assateague Island National Seashore, however, visitors have the unique opportunity to experience a natural coastal environment, where many species are prevalent. A typical day on the beach is copious with Brown Pelicans swooping over the ocean, Bottlenose Dolphins surfacing in the water, and Sandpipers scurrying along with the tide. A look behind your umbrella will not leave visions of hotels and restaurants but of sand dunes, vegetation, and coves that provides much needed habitat for coastal wildlife, some being endangered.

Willets & Sandpiper feeding in the evening
Willets and a Sandpiper feeding. Photo credit-Jackie R.

On the neighboring island of Chincoteague (where vacationers stay) the land is engulfed with salt marshes. Behind our cottage was a canal teeming with wildlife. While fishing from the dock, we watched herons and egrets hunt for food and we even observed a Diamondback Terrapin for the first time, sunning itself on a log that protruded into the water.

Assateague and Chincoteague’s natural bliss provides visitors with an atypical but yet rewarding beach vacation, and more importantly it provides many species with a safe haven in our world of commercialization and preserves the original role of the Eastern Shore.