Chesapeake Ethic

My personal ethic concerning the Chesapeake Bay seems to always be in flux. Pretty much the entirety of my childhood had nothing to do with the Bay, being disconnected from it in northern New Jersey. When I began college a couple of years ago in Maryland, I made a connection with the nearby Chester River, which is a tributary of the Bay. This fall, I am participating in a program through my college, the Chesapeake Semester. Only two weeks into this immersive program, and my ideas, thoughts, and ethical values concerning the Chesapeake are already changing.

My current contexts surrounding the Bay are what I have experienced and learned about so far. One context that stands out in my mind is the Chesapeake Blue Crab, Callinectes sapidus. In some ways, the blue crab shaped a big portion of our orientation week journeys. Our first encounter with the blue crab, was having them for lunch aboard the historic skipjack “Elsworth”. The next day we pulled a seine net on the shores of a marsh, and found blue crabs there as well. Our closest connection with the crab came when we woke before the sun to board the “Riley Cat” with Captain Russell Dies. Captain Russell is a true Chesapeake waterman, and we were lucky enough to go trotlining for crabs with him. It was a beautiful morning on the water, and it was even more beautiful to catch almost 8 bushels of crabs!

An ethical issue that arose during our trot lining trip was whether or not we wanted to keep the female crabs. As a collective group, we deciding to throw back the females, and we did so for the ethical reason that they can continue to breed and reproduce, sustaining the crab population which has been in trouble. In our lecture this week on environmental ethics from Dr. McCabe we discussed the differences between instrumental and intrinsic values. It is important to think of the Bay and it’s resources in these ways, and to make the decision over whether something like female blue crabs deserve our moral consideration.

Wendell Berry’s essay “Solving for Pattern discusses solutions to these ethical issues. Berry writes, “A good solution solves more than one problem, and it does not make new problems” (Berry, p. 5). The Chesapeake Bay’s issues need to be solved with solutions like those, albeit that being a difficult task. Because all the problems of the Bay are interconnected, we must realize that when looking towards future reparation and growth of the watershed.

Throughout my journey exploring the Chesapeake, I hope that my ethic of this watershed will be changed and molded because of my experiences and interactions. I hope to become more connected to the Bay, and I am confident that I will. In feeling more connected, I am looking forward to being more inspired to help restore the waters. I am eager to learn more about contexts such as the Chesapeake Bay’s policies and regulations. I am excited for what is to come during my semester, and look forward to sharing my thoughts through this blog.

Berry, Wendell. “Chapter 9: Solving for Pattern.” The Gift of Good Land: Further Essays Cultural and Agricultural. N.p.: North Point, 1981. 1-7. Web. <;.


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