Decrease of man, crabs, and land on Smith Island


Smith Island is a unique land on the shore line off of Crisfield which is known for crabbing as well as the group of people that have grown up here. This island, which once was home of 800 member, now has only 200 members. This now small community relies on boats to import all their goods and vehicles. That means the island does not have a grocery store or a mall anywhere. It’s a 45 minute boat ride one way and that means any student on the island has to take the “school boat” every morning. Because of the long boat ride every morning, most people on the island keep there work locally. Most of the men are watermen. They catch crabs, soft shells, some oysters, and maybe fish. Back than, the wives would spend all day picking the crabs their husbands had caught. This than started the crab co-op. There, the women would steam and pick the crabs to put into one pound containers to sell to markets and that was how the women and families made their livings. But over the years, only three women now pick the crabs and this is mostly due to families leaving the island. They believe that depleting number of people has to do with land lose, limited money, and breaking away from a small world.



From my observation, reseeding land seems to be the biggest issue here on the island. In the late 1700s, people began moving to the island to presue crabbing due to the large variety of sea grass beds surrounding the island. These sea grasses are where crabs mult and become soft shell crabs. This exploded the population of watermen, however, really damaged these beds that were the only vegitation holding the landscape from eroding away. Now, erosion of the island has gotten so bad that in some spots along the island has reseeded 20 feet in the last 100 years. This puts a threat to everyone on the island because their homes could be underwater within a few years. During storms and hurricanes, the island is mostly underwater due to the storm surge and when the water leaves the island, it takes many of the land with it. Their only saving grace at the moment during the storms are that the main three towns are build on the highest point of the island,but like I said earlier, that land will be gone soon.

While we were on the island, I felt as if the towns weren't apart of rest of the Chesapeake bay community. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming to us college students and we got invited to attend their church which was very eye opening. The whole community relied on the church as a seance of hope for good crabbing and the safety of the watermen. The minister was a character in the sense that he had plenty of stories and was also not a true smith islander but he was excepted by the community and almost acted as a mayor. I could never imagine moving to an island like this and having such a tight community with no crime or even police on the island. I also could never imagine myself living somewhere, as much as I hate to admit it, like smith island. I like to be able to drive my car down the street to a super store and mall to hang out with my friends. This whole experience just gives me a better appreciation for these people who live on the island and the generations that were born a raised there and how they don't need a fancy life because they have their faith and family support for a stable life style. I admire their work ethic and I hope that the people of the island never loose their uniqueness when the last bit of the island is carried into the bay.


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