Photos by Dan Addison
Tom O’Halloran, assistant professor of environmental science, and his oceanography class spent the last weekend in April hiking through the salt marshes on Hog Island. Along with Sweet Briar marine biologist John “Shark Man” Morrissey, the class stayed at the Anheuser-Busch Coastal Research Center, which is part of the University of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Sciences.
The group explored the 7-mile-long island and came face to face with various forms of sea life.
Located on the Eastern Shore, Hog Island is one of 14 barrier islands that make up the Virginia Coast Reserve. It features shallow lagoons with extensive mudflats, tidal marshes and mainland watersheds extending 70 miles along the seaward margin of the Delmarva Peninsula.
The reserve was created in the 1970s by the Nature Conservancy and has since been designated a United Nations International Man and Biosphere Reserve. The barrier islands are largely uninhabited due to the rising sea level, which causes them to migrate toward land by as much as 40 feet in a single year.
The reserve is ideal for the study of coastal processes: events that might take decades elsewhere can be observed over the span of just a few years.
For more photos, click the slide show: