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Learn from a Chesapeake Bay waterman

10:30 AM EST, February 19, 2013

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Hardly a month goes by that The Sun does not further document how Chesapeake Bay pollution is eroding the livelihoods of our watermen.

In a cynical moment, I once wrote in my book, "Bay Country," of a day when "we will memorialize the vanished watermen in a Colonial Williamsburg — Watermens' World, we'd call it ... tourists could view actors tonging Fiberglas oysters from the comfort of underwater viewing lounges...."

Now I'm encouraged to report that the Chesapeake Conservancy has an innovative program up and running that trains real life watermen to share their skills with tourists, supplementing their incomes while we work to restore the Chesapeake's seafood bounty.

More than 80 watermen have been certified to do so by the nonprofit conservancy, which was honored for its work recently by the Maryland Historical Trust.

Saving the bay is not just saving fish or reducing nutrients. It is saving unique human cultures still tied to nature as few moderns are.

Thinking about how to contribute to helping the Chesapeake? Have some fun doing it. Go to http://www.watermenheritagetours.org and book a tour — way better than visiting a museum.

Tom Horton, Salisbury

The writer is a former Sun reporter and the author of several books on the Chesapeake Bay.

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