Assateague Island National Seashore

wild horsesOne day while we were at the beach, we went to  Assateague Island National Seashore.  We could see the northern most end of the island from our back door, right across the bay, but you need to drive a few miles to get to a bridge. Assateague is famous for the wild horses that live there. There are several stories as to how the original horses got there, and it’s an interesting internet search.  It’s a long, skinny island, and the horses roam wherever they want to go.  We saw 8 or 10 and couldn’t get close to them, but close enough to take some pictures.  The picture is a thumbnail which will enlarge if you click it.

Every year they round up some of the horses and remove them from the island to keep the population right for the resources there. Here’s a Wikipedia article. They leave 80 of them on the island.  Sometimes the horses do come near people, and you are warned that they bite and kick and look like regular horses but are very wild. It is also illegal to feed them, since their diet is complete with what the find on the island, and feeding them might encourage them to become tame enough to approach people more.

Dylan fished on the ocean side of the island and Eliza and I both went in the water far enough to pick up some seashells.

AssateagueAssateagueI also spent some time on the bay side of the island dropping a crab trap into shallow water.  It’s fun to be able to see the bottom, and watch crabs walk onto the trap, interested in the chicken tied tight at the bottom.  Then you pull the cord, the 4 sides fold up, and you have a crab!  They must be 5″ point to point  to be legal, and you can never take females.  I only caught one that was big enough to keep, so he went back into the bay.

You need a license to fish and crab, and can get a separate license just to crab if you’re using a trap.  I had the crab license and the kids had both, since they wanted to fish off our pier a lot.

But there’s a way to catch crabs without a license, and while I was crabbing on the bay side, I observed a family having so much fun. You can crab with a hand line without getting a license. You use sturdy cord and tie it well around a piece of chicken, usually a neck or wing.  Then drop it into shallow water and watch…and wait.  (You need a net handy and also need to know to only grasp the crabs from behind, or those claws will hurt you and big ones might send you to the ER for a couple of stitches, seriously.)

In shallow water you can see the crab walk over to the chicken and start eating it.  You can pull the cord a ways and most times the crab will hang on and keep eating! They don’t want to give their chicken up.  I’ve seen cords pulled the whole way up out of the water with the crab still hanging on, but it’s best to have a net so you don’t lose any.

So this family had 3 little girls, maybe 5-9 years old, and they were all crabbing with hand lines.  We were all on a long, low bridge over a shallow, marshy area, so they could walk a ways away from their parents up and down the bridge to drop their lines.  When one would catch one, they called mom or dad and they came running with the net.  They would squeal and holler when they caught one and I commented to the mother what a wonderful experience it was for them. It was fun for me to watch them.

There is so much to learn on the island.  There is a large building when you first come on the island with great displays about the different kinds of animals you might see there. There are also displays  telling the story about how the island is preserved in its natural state for all to enjoy, and how it came to be established as a National Park.  Here’s a lot of info from their website.

6 responses to “Assateague Island National Seashore

  1. What a wonderful place to visit. The family doing the hand crabbing sound as though they were having lots of fun.

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