Jumbos, Jimmies and the Red Sea

A local woman has been taking us out on her boat a lot. There is nothing like getting a locals vantage of the hood. She was telling us about Jumbos (giant blue crabs that were plentiful when she was a kid and hard to find nowadays), Jimmies (male blue crabs), and as she was talking, Ava tubed right into a “red sea”. And red it was.

The “red” is from the oil of the menhaden, a local fish that is made into fish oil and catfood in Reedville, by a company called Omega Protein that apparently has a monopoly on the industry. The Chesapeake makes a perfect nursery for the young, so killing them here affects the entire population along the eastern seaboard.

There has been a lot of racket from both sides on the overfishing as well as the pain of lost local jobs when Omega Protein is asked to cut back.

In the 1800′s a fisherman’s wife in Blue Hill, Maine learned how to make oil from the fish. Soon enough a guy from Maine, Captain Reed, moved his circus to Reedville, VA in 1874 and started a town and a fishery.

In any case, we sat in a huge sea of orange red for a good 20 minutes, watching bald eagles dive and learning about Jumbos, Jimmies and why the sea was red.

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