Boating season is fast approaching! This year, before venturing out onto Delaware's Inland Bays, boaters should familiarize themselves with the useful tips provided in a handy, new guide published by the University of Delaware Sea Grant College Program.
The free, full-color guide, "Boating in Delaware's Inland Bays: Tips for Protecting the Environment," offers simple steps that boaters can take to minimize their impacts on Rehoboth, Indian River, and Little Assawoman bays, collectively known as Delaware's "Inland Bays."
These interconnected waterways represent one of 28 "nationally significant" estuaries targeted for restoration through the EPA's National Estuary Program. Currently, the bays are suffering from degraded water quality and habitat-loss problems that threaten flounder, clams, and other marine life.
"The Inland Bays rank as Delaware's most popular boating destination, but their shallow nature puts the bays at great risk from human impacts," says Jim Falk, director of the UD Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service, who was the guide's chief author.
"At low tide, the bays range from less than 2 feet at their lowest to only about 8 feet at their deepest," Falk notes. "If boaters can travel at reduced speeds in shallow areas, dispose of their wastes in the proper way, and maintain their vessels with consideration for the environment, they can play an important role in improving and protecting the health of the bays."
Among the topics highlighted in the guide are boat wakes and erosion, propeller disturbance of bottom sediments, pollution from fuel and oil spills, plastic pollution, human waste discharge, excessive noise, and boat maintenance. The guide also includes a map of the bays, a key for identifying important signage and markers that may be seen while underway, and illustrations of common wildlife. The guide's folded size is 8 1/2 inches long by 4 inches wide. Unfolded, it measures 17-by-24 inches.
Printing of the guide was supported by a grant from the Center for the Inland Bays. For a free copy of the guide, please contact the UD Marine Communications Office in Newark at (302) 831-8083, or the Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service in Lewes at (302) 645-4346.