Boating Visits to Assawoman Islands Hurting Nesting Bird Populat - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Boating Visits to Assawoman Islands Hurting Nesting Bird Populations

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WEST OCEAN CITY, Md. - The Maryland Coastal Bays Program said the nesting season of birds living on the islands that dot the Assawoman Bay and surrounding bodies of water is being interrupted by boaters. 

The islands are home to several species of endangered birds in the middle of their nesting season. Because the birds lay their eggs directly on sand, they are vulnerable to many predators and disturbance. In particular, boats that dock on the islands may scare the birds away from their nests.

"Folks that come on the island, they think that, well, 'I'm not near the signs so I'm alright.' The point is, any kind of disturbance will cause the birds to fly," said Maryland Coastal Bays Science Coordinator Roman Jesien.

Jesien said this problem is especially important to solve because over the last two decades, a rise in sea level and some erosion have caused the loss of over 300 acres of island.

"We've lost a lot of areas for the birds to nest so this -- the few islands that we do have are really important for these birds," said Jesien.

However, some local boaters need more guidance on where to go.

"Maybe if there's like a bigger sign or you know, somewhere more awareness signs that people could see it," said boater Ted Cusimano. 

The islands will reopen to the public in September when the nesting season is over. 

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