Here at Chesapeake Bay Media, we firmly believe there is no other place quite like the Bay. We’ve looked for comparable parts of the country, but the combination of working waterfront history, fantastic recreation, and rich ecology that this region offers is in a league of its own. And we can’t forget its important military role (past and present) or its world-famous seafood.
As CBM Bay Weekly spotlights different Chesapeake Country destinations this summer in our Weekends on the Water series, there’s one place that arguably encompasses the largest number of unique Bay features: Solomons Island.
Because this spit of land remained pretty isolated until the Thomas Johnson Bridge came along in the late 1970s, it has held onto its old-school Bay feel. Its history is indisputable—from working watermen and boatbuilding to steamboats from the big city. Solomons produced more log-hulled bugeyes for oyster dredging than any other town on the Chesapeake.
During the 20th century, Solomons became neighbor to the growing Naval Air Station Patuxent River, today a hotbed for naval aviation where test pilots go to school and naval weapons are developed at Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) headquarters.
Today, the working waterfront looks a bit different than its oystering past; it’s based mostly in tourism and recreational boating. Bring on the charter boats and paddle craft rentals! The Solomons food scene is full of great seafood spots, most with water views. Find a slew of good options in this issue.
The final piece of Solomons’ unique Bayness (yes, that’s a word—for our purposes, anyway) is its proximity to fascinating environmental sites. It’s a stone’s throw from Calvert Cliffs State Park, home to an internationally-famous collection of fossils all ready to be discovered. It’s home to the Calvert Marine Museum, where paleontologists are making major advances (for example, they’ve come up with the best estimate yet for how large the prehistoric megalodon shark really was!).
And the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) Chesapeake Biological Laboratory is constantly studying the Bay. For the past three years, UMCES has been engaging boaters and other Bay enthusiasts to log their dolphin sightings on the Bay with photos, video, and location information. Just this month, CBL researchers released their findings thanks to these citizen scientists on the water. In a newly published paper, they reveal that dolphin sightings peak in the summer, with frequent sightings around the coastal Bay and mouths of multiple rivers. Bottlenose dolphins appear to prefer temperatures around 68 degrees Fahrenheit with specific salinity ranges in different regions. And in the lower and middle Bay, there are more sightings during the spring tides that occur during a new or full moon.
Whether it’s the groundbreaking marine science, the waterfront history, the fishing, or the dock-and-dine vibe that you embrace on the Chesapeake Bay, you can find it in Solomons. And one last bonus: you don’t have to cross the Bay Bridge to get there!