Watermen (the term used to describe the people who harvest fish, shellfish, crabs and other resources from the bay) are known for their intelligence and sharp wit combined with a lack of formal education. The result can often be offensive to those with a deference to politically correct positions. The Money Island Marina community has made a 180 degree turnaround with respect to environmental issues and environmentalists since I’ve become active over the past few years. I’ve invited groups of photographers, kayakers and birders to enjoy our pristine point on the Delaware Bay. We now even stock things like binoculars and natural bug spray in the marina shop. Well maybe I need to say that we’ve taken a 179 degree turn after I heard this story:
Sunday a group of tourists pulled up to the marina bait shop while the watermen were having coffee. They announced that they were looking for “wildlife”. Our wetlands are a wonderful home for birds but we don’t see many deer, foxes, coyote, etc. on the salt water marshes as the lands a few miles offshore. Apparently our guests did not know this and this set them up for teasing by the watermen. The local joke is that any deer, turkey or other animal that happens to wander down the long causeways to the beachheads wind up in a waterman’s freezer.
The sightseers commented that the Money Island area is so remote with so few resources for humans. “Where do you get your food?” one asked. Never one to miss the chance, our senior waterman said “Remember that wildlife you referred to earlier?” Before they took in and recovered from that thought, he added “You might want to head up the road to Dividing Creek. There are lots of trees you can hug there.”
I guess we still have some work to do before we can make progress into courting environmental tourism!