Tangier Island

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Tangier Island

Abby Pitts, Contributor

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Many people around the world hope they get the opportunity to visit this tiny, unique island off the coast of Virginia before it is lost forever. Tangier Island is perched in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, about 100 miles from Washington D.C. The island is one of the most isolated places in America, that only a few people get to call home. Anyone who gets the opportunity to visit Tangier Island before it vanishes is very lucky and should not pass up the opportunity.

Tangier Island was discovered in 1608 by John Smith and was originally claimed by the British. The first permanent settlers arrived in 1686. Pocomoke Indians lived on the island before the English settled it. In 1812 Fort Albion was built by the Royal Marines, which is now completely underwater. Tangier Island was a place where slaves could go to seek refuge and be freed from slavery during the War of 1812.

Tangier Island is also very famous for soft shell crab worldwide. About 75% of our nation’s soft shell crabs come from around the area of the island and the Chesapeake Bay. The locals on the island know all of the best spots to pick up anything from crab legs, crab cakes, and even crab breakfasts! If the island were to sink and disappear permanently our nation’s soft shell crab numbers would plummet greatly.

Tangier Island locals have their own way of doing things on the island. There are only about 500 people living on the island currently. The residents of the island have a very distinct accent that makes locals very recognizable as opposed the tourists. They also have their very own vocabulary that others may not understand if they aren’t from the area. They use their own words or terms including “mug-up” and “cunge”, which only locals know the meaning of. Instead of saying “yours” they say “yorn” and for “only” they would say “onliest”. The locals also love giving each other nicknames on the island. Some of their favorite nicknames are “Spanky” and “Foo-Foo”. They do not have cars or cell phone service on the island either. The Islanders’ main source of transportation is golf carts and bikes.

There is some controversy due to what is causing this little island to vanish. Many locals believe it is disappearing due to wind erosion while many scientists and people studying the island say it is caused by the rising sea levels. Many of the islanders do not believe in global warming and the rising sea levels, and they believe that the island is wearing away solely from wind erosion. President Trump told the mayor of Tangier Island not to worry about the rising sea levels. The island is disappearing due to a combination of the two of these issues. Now, Tangier Island’s highest point is only about four feet above sea level. Since 1850 the Island has been decreasing in size at an alarming rate. Tangier Island has been losing an average of eight acres of land per year for many years now. According to National Geographic, Tangier Island could be completely uninhabitable in roughly 15 years, which would be very devastating for many people. The Islanders have now gotten used to the constant flooding. Schools are delayed much of the time and getting around the island can be challenging but they have learned to live with it.

Many efforts are being made to help save this special island. Now President Trump and the mayor of the island are rooting for a wall to surround the island. The State of Virginia recently agreed to build a basic stone wall around the island and it is estimated to cost roughly $3 million. A much better wall could be built that would protect the island better but it would cost much more. The Army Corps of Engineers is currently researching the idea to see if building a wall would actually benefit the survival of the island.

Ralph Northam, Virginia’s Governor, also wants to spend roughly $773 million to try to save Tangier Island. The money would be divided to do many different things. According to Chesapeake Bay Magazine about $90 million will go to the state’s “agricultural best management practices cost-share program,” programs to fight runoff, and experts to help farmers. Around $50 million will go to the Stormwater Local Assistance Fund, to reduce impermeable surface pollution. $11 million will go to support the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation and the governor’s conservation strategies. Lastly, around $2.5 million will be for additional staffing at the Department of Environmental Equality. This amount of money would do a lot to help this island and you can donate money at https://www.generosity.com/community-fu…/save-tangier-island.

There are many other ways to protect the island other than building a wall or spending millions of dollars. Making man-made oyster reefs would help protect the island from damaging waves. A man-made oyster reef would be made up of piles of concrete underwater with bivalves attached to it to make a natural barrier. Landscaping with salt water plants could also help fight the erosion issues on the island. Still, with all of these efforts being made no one is sure if the island can be saved at the rate the island is diminishing.

Overall, this little island in the Chesapeake is a very special place for many people. It would be very devastating to so many people if the island was lost. With the land size decreasing so are the number of tourists, so visit while you can! Anyone who gets the chance to visit Tangier Island should jump on the opportunity. Let’s help this little island survive!

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