Another Coastal Bay Island Off-limits This Summer Around OC - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Another Coastal Bay Island Off-limits This Summer Around OC

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Bird eggs on Maryland coastal bay island (Photo: MD DNR) Bird eggs on Maryland coastal bay island (Photo: MD DNR)

WORCESTER COUNTY, Md. - Tern Island in the Isle of Wight Bay off of Ocean City has gone to the birds.  The island was completed last year by the Army Corps of Engineers and was a party island.  This summer, the man made island is off-limits.

There are eight islands in the bays off Ocean City that are now off-limits to boaters and sunbathers.  Tern Island is the latest in the list.  While boaters claimed it as their own in 2015, they will not be able to do so this summer.

"Tern Island was finished about April of last year and at that point, most of the birds had already made nesting decisions and the birds didn't use it," said Dave Brinker of the Maryland Wildlife and Heritage Service.

The Royal Tern, Common Tern, and Black Skimmer are three species of endangered birds that only nest on these small bay islands during the summer months.  For that reason, the islands are patrolled by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police to ensure the birds are not disturbed.

"Birds nest all over the islands.  They tend to nest on the low, flat areas.  They can't handle any disturbance at all because when they leave the nest, the eggs get fried in the sun.  And then you have crows and gulls that come and eat the eggs very quickly," said Dave Wilson of Audobon Maryland-DC.

Signs are posted along the shore of Tern, Skimmer, Heron, OC Spoils, and four other islands in the bays around Ocean City.  The islands are closed to boaters from April 1 to Sept. 15 while the birds are nesting.  Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police tell WBOC that a first-time offense will include being escorted off the island and some education as to why the birds are there and nesting.  A second offense could mean a citation and fine or even an arrest.

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