Library presentations celebrate Chesapeake Bay, wildlife

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

The vast wonders of the Chesapeake Bay will flow into the James City County Library as it celebrates Bay Day on Tuesday. Scientists from the Virginia Aquarium and the College of William and Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science will present fun and informative experiences.

"The health and vibrancy of the Chesapeake Bay is a topic that's of great interest to anyone who lives in this area," said Melissa Simpson, Williamsburg Regional Library's adult services division director, in a news release. "We are excited to have scientists from the Virginia Aquarium and VIMS out here to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with our users of all ages."

Aquarium scientists will showcase their touch tank program, which allows kids and adults alike the opportunity to get their hands wet handling indigenous Chesapeake Bay inhabitants like whelks, spider crabs and the eastern murex. The scientists will share insight into the creatures' lives, their role in the bay's ecosystem and the significance of ocean conservation.

Later that afternoon, Vaskar Nepal, a Ph.D. student at VIMS, will discuss blue catfish, a species introduced into the bay in the 1960s for fishing and now deemed an invasive species. They can grow up to 100 pounds and interfere with the development of native species.

Nepal said he wants to present the whole situation on an animal that still requires further research. Organizations like the Virginia Marine Resource Commission wanting to foster the catfish population so the fishing industry can thrive, while the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries wants to further control the population in the interest of other aquatic life in the bay.

With the facts presented, people can make their own judgments. Nepal added he's used to presenting to other biologists, so the library talk provides an opportunity to engage with the larger community and get ideas the scientists might not have considered.

"There's a lot of information out there, but there's a lot of conflicting information," Nepal said. "My main goal is to give people unbiased picture."

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

Want to go?

The James City County Library hosts Bay Day Tuesday. The touch tank program runs 1-2 p.m. The VIMS presentation runs 3-4 p.m. Free.

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