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BayQuest — A Journey of Exploration

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Scripts of Activities and Video Transcripts

Please note: These transcripts are taken from conversations Alice Jane and Bob Lippson had with our staff. Some of the sentence constructions are not those found in formal writing or presentations; instead, they represent the actual words these noted experts said. If you use this page with students, you should make them aware of this.

Piers, Rocks, and Jetties

Ever wonder . . . Is building piers bad for the creatures in the Bay?
This is one area that’s quite interesting. You would think everything that man does has been not too good for the Bay. But, the interesting thing is, that man-made structures like rocks and piers and other such, jetties, and other such hard subjects are actually taking the place now of all the hard oyster shells that used to be in the Bay, that all these creatures used to attach to. And they don’t have as many oysters to attach to, so now they have all these piers and jetties and pilings. And so, in a sense, interestingly enough because you think man has done nothing good, he has done something good by building all these piers.

Ever wonder . . . What’s that smell?
The smell of a pier, in some ways, is reminiscent of the smell that you might get on an intertidal flat because the same sort of chemistry is going on. You’ve got dying creatures. You’ve got a lot of algae that’s rotting. And you’ve got a lot of animals that are rotting. And so, and you’ve got mud, also a lot of mud that is sort of trapped in and amongst the critters, the living creatures on the pier. So, it smells pretty much like an intertidal flat.

Ever wonder . . . What’s all the slimy green stuff on the piers?
The scum that you see often times, it’s a sort of a green scum. Sometimes it’s brown; that’s usually algae. And again, that can be important because a lot of fish nibble on algae –and particularly for a lot of small little fish, like mummichugs, such very small common fishes in the Chesapeake Bay. It’s also very interesting that, when a raw piece of wood goes into the water, before any animals can attach, there’s a tiny microscopic scum that first settles on that wood, and that creates a surface where many more animals can attach.

Ever wonder . . . Would it help the Bay to take the piers away?
If all of these piers and hard substances disappeared from the Bay, we would be in big trouble. The whole ecology of the Bay would be in real trouble. Just as we are concerned about the loss of the oyster shells because of the communities and the animals that get attached to it, many of those animals are now attached to these hard substances. If they weren’t there, it would seriously disturb the balance of the Chesapeake Bay.

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