The Beach Report – January 23, 2015

January 23rd, 2015 by Teresa Diaz

If you’re a nature lover or an outdoor enthusiast, Virginia Beach has just the experience for you! Pack your weekender for a fun and educational getaway to Virginia Beach for the 2015 Winter Wildlife Festival. This unique festival takes place on new dates this year: February 5-8, 2015, and also has a new home base location: Great Neck Recreation Center, located at 2512 Shorehaven Drive in Virginia Beach. Read on for the details!

The following info was provided by the Virginia Beach Department of Parks & Recreation. For more information, contact Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Outdoor Programs at 757-385-4461 or via email at outdoors@VBgov.com.


Photo by Jane Scott Norris

Photo by Jane Scott Norris

Presented by Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation in partnership with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Winter Wildlife Festival includes educational workshops and engaging excursions that are sure to captivate outdoor enthusiasts, both novice and expert, for a nominal fee. Space is limited for the excursions and workshops, so register early to secure your spot. Download a registration form at www.VBgov.com/winterwildlife

The keynote presenter on Friday, February 6 at the MEO Central Library will be veteran wildlife photographer, tour leader and accomplished birder Kevin Karlson. New Jersey-based Karlson will discuss his latest project, “Visions: Earth’s Elements in Bird and Nature Photography,” a book set by the elements of the planet (earth, fire, air, and water) and includes an assortment of nature photographs, from exciting action and moody contemplation, that are connected to these elements. Register for the keynote event by calling 757-385-0426 or via email outdoors@VBgov.com

Be sure to stop by the Exhibit Hall on Saturday, February 7 to meet and chat with Winter Wildlife Festival partners and other exhibitors including the Virginia Aquarium, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia State Parks, Lynnhaven River NOW, and the Virginia Beach Audubon Society. Learn ways to get involved with local efforts, and find out what the environmental groups and businesses are up to. Observe skilled decoy carvers from the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum working. Tour fascinating oyster castles constructed by Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation’s Project Green Teens. This year’s Walk-Up Workshops include topics “Black Bears 101,” “Fisheries in Back Bay,” and “Harbor Seals in Virginia Beach.” The Exhibit Hall and Walk-Up Workshops are free and open to the public, starting at 10 am until 4 pm on Saturday, February 7 at Great Neck Recreation Center. Enjoy food truck eats plus special children’s activities by the Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

For a full list of workshops and excursions and to download a registration form, please visit http://www.VBgov.com/winterwildlife. Registration ends Friday, January 30. For more information about the event, please contact Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Outdoor Programs at 757-385-4461 or send an email to: outdoors@VBgov.com.

About Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation:Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation’s vision is a balanced, sustainable and value-focused system of parks, recreation and public spaces that creates a sense of community. We are accredited by CAPRA, the certifying agency of the National Recreation and Park Association. For more information, call (757) 385-1100 (TTY: 711 Virginia Relay), visit VBgov.com/parks or sign up for our email newsletters at Bgov.com/eNews. Find us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/VBParksRec.

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5 Fun Things You May Not Know About Whales

January 21st, 2015 by Teresa Diaz

Whales arIMG_6079 whales1 and 2e one of the largest ocean-dwelling mammals on the planet. Read on to learn five fun things you may not know about whales and then book your visit to Virginia Beach for an opportunity to see them up close during one of our Winter Wildlife ocean excursions.

1) Whales don’t drink water

Whales do not rely on seawater for their water requirement. Instead, they metabolize the fat present in their body for their water needs, as it is comparatively less salty. Alternatively, they also make use of the water that exists in the bodies of other small fish they eat. This helps the whales overcome the salt content present in the seawater.

2) Like you and me, humpback whales have BFFs

Female humpback whales have been known to make friends with other females and even reunite each year. They like the same things we do, eating together and enjoying each other’s company.

3) Dirty ears serve as their timelines

Whales accumulate layers of wax in their ear canals which, over time, result in large ear plugs. Similar to how you determine the age of a tree, the age of a whale can be determined by counting the layers of wax built up in their ear canals. This wax build-up can also show the whale’s stress levels and pollutant exposure throughout its lifetime.

4) They sleep with one eye open, figuratively

Whales do not fall asleep entirely, nor do they become unconscious while they are asleep. They are conscious breathers and consistently stay alert. Only one hemisphere of their brain falls asleep at any point of time, while the other stays active. This means the whales are always partially awake and respond to any changes in the surrounding area, such as predators or passing vessels.

5) They can outlive humans by over 100 years!

Whales live for a very long time. The minimum life span of a whale is around 77 years. Recently, a whale was found with an estimated age of 211 years, making them one of the longest living creatures in the world!

Now that you know these fascinating facts about whales, it is about time that you take the next step and plan your visit to Virginia Beach.


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The Beach Report – January 16, 2015

January 16th, 2015 by Katherine Jackson

This week in The Beach Report, blogger and local walking guide Katherine Jackson shares two out-of-the-box ideas for walking Virginia Beach.  Don’t forget: this weekend is the Coastal Virginia Wine Fest – see link below for details. Live the Life!

Two Walks at the Virginia Beach Convention Center

Photo credit: Stephen Proffitt

Photo credit: Stephen Proffitt

I’ve attended a number of trade conferences and worked in exhibit booths at a variety of expos, and although both types of events are rewarding, they’re also hard work because they require long hours of sitting or standing. Taking a break, stretching my legs, and seeing a change of scenery are imperative to making it through the event. The folks at the Virginia Beach Convention Center have made it easy for people who attend events in the facility – as well as visitors and people who live in the neighborhood – to take a walking break. Maps available at the concierge desk depict two short walks – one is half a mile, the other is a mile – both of which can be completed without leaving the Center grounds. The routes are flat, easy and accessible for people with disabilities. And a number of sights are worth seeing along the way.

½ Mile Walk

Both walks begin at the same place: Exit the Convention Center’s west end, cross 19th Street and walk south along Jefferson Avenue. One of the most beautiful and moving sights on this route is the Tidewater Veterans Memorial, an architectural sculpture dedicated to all veterans in the Hampton Roads Area. The memorial was a community affair: the design incorporates ideas submitted by three high school students who won a city-wide contest. A second competition among twenty-five local artists and architects resulted in the memorial’s dynamic, spherical form. At the front of the memorial, a flag square includes the U.S. and Virginia flags as well as flags representing the five military services. The memorial carries the message: “They Shall Not Be Forgotten.”

After passing the Tidewater Veterans Memorial Park, the route continues south to 17th Street, turns west for a block, turns north and passes two fountains, and then returns to the Convention Center. Another noteworthy feature of the Center’s grounds is the display of native plants, including trees, shrubs, groundcovers and grasses. Bald cypress trees line many of the walkways, and even though they’re bare during the winter, their scent still fills the air. Some plants along the way are sleeping right now, while some have donned their winter colors. I’ll come back to take this walk again in the spring when everything starts to wake up.

One Mile Walk
art 7

Photo credit: Katherine Jackson

The half-mile course ends with the return to 19th Street, and another half mile can be added by walking along 19th Street to the east end of the Convention Center where a Pop Up Art Park lies at the corner of 19th and Parks Avenue. Titled Project LifeguART, the exhibit includes authentic lifeguard stands and gear boxes decorated with vibrant and original art. I had heard about this project over the summer when the painted stands and gear boxes were placed on the beach, and I was impressed when I saw them in one place. Some have bold nautical designs and some are covered by sea creatures. Two are painted like VW vans, one with a surfboard on top, and one with daisies and peace signs. Designed by local artists and sponsored by local businesses, the pop up art alone is worth the walk. Plan a trip before spring when they’ll be returned to active duty on the beach.

Photo credit: Katherine Jackson

Photo credit: Katherine Jackson

The one-mile course is completed by turning around at Parks Avenue and returning to the west end of the Convention Center. However, the walk can be extended by heading for the scenic Virginia Beach Boardwalk just a little more than half of a mile from the Convention Center, or by continuing north a few blocks on Parks Avenue to the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art where a number of sculptures are installed on the grounds.

Of course, the Convention Center itself is a work of art, reminiscent of both a lighthouse and the prow of a tremendous ship. It’s perfectly located as a starting point for walking in the resort area, and there’s typically free parking available. While you’re in the neighborhood for a walk, you also can take advantage of some of the events on the Virginia Beach Convention Center calendar in the next few months.

Here’s a taste:

Coastal Virginia Winefest and MOCA Art Show, Jan 17 & 18: 40 wineries, a craft beer garden and a host of vendors showcasing food, arts and crafts.

Tidewater Recreational Vehicle Show, Jan. 23 – 25 featuring everything necessary for an outdoor lifestyle.

Virginia Flower and Garden Expo, Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 promoting horticultural education for professionals and weekend gardeners

Shamrock Marathon Sports and Fitness Expo, March 20 – 22 featuring equipment, apparel and shoes, along with a speaker series


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There’s Gold in Those Canyons!

January 15th, 2015 by Mike Halperin

A 33 lb. golden tilefish citation catch

A 33 lb. golden tilefish citation catch

A getaway to Virginia Beach for some cool season fishing is one way to Live the Life!

Proving that all that glitters may be gold, golden tilefish continue to provide amazing offshore fishing. Anglers making the 60-mile trip to the edge of the Continental Shelf near Norfolk Canyon have been rewarded with 7-fish limit catches of golden tiles up to 33 lbs., including citation fish.  Golden tilefish are mostly in the 3 to 20 lb. range with blueline tilefish, black bellied rosefish and grouper rounding out the deep-water possibilities.  Out-of-season seabass may also bite, but must be released.

The Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, which opened January 1, 2015, and runs throughout the year, has added a new fish, golden tilefish, to the list of species eligible for citation awards. Citation fish must meet a minimum weight of 30 pounds.  Unfortunately, tilefish do not qualify for release awards as this deep-water species is subject to high mortality when released due to extreme pressure differences from the surface to a habitat typically over 200 feet deep.

Dr. Ken Neill & his 24.22 lb. state record tautog

Dr. Ken Neill & his current Va. record 24.22 lb. tautog

Tautog, always delicious and also known as blackfish, are hitting at offshore wrecks and in the Bay. Togs ranging from 3 to 10 lbs. with occasional fish to 15 lbs. can be tricked with crabs or clam.  Hermit or frozen green crabs will have to serve as crab bait this time of year.   A new 28 lb., 8 oz.  Maryland state record tog has our local anglers dreaming of besting the current Virginia record 24 lb., 3 oz. fish caught by Dr. Ken Neill.  The Triangle Wrecks should be holding plenty of tautog.

The 12th annual Rockfish Shootout was a success with anglers working the northern sections of Chesapeake Bay for trophy bass. “Team Legrande Slam 1” triumphed with a three-fish total of 125.80 lbs. of rockfish closely followed by Team “Smooth Move” and Team “Marlin Maniac 1” at 125.15 and 120.50 lbs. respectively for 2nd and 3rd place.  In addition to sizable cash awards, this tournament donates thousands of pounds of fish filets to area food banks, sponsors scholarships, and is helping to build a family room at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.

New Year, New Rule: As a result of an overall decline in fish population numbers, striped bass regulations for 2015 only permit recreational anglers to keep one striped bass over 28 inches per day. While recent catches have included acceptable numbers of larger 30- and 40-lb. class bass, federal regulators made this change to allow rockfish to begin a biomass recovery cycle, particularly for smaller fish that will become breeders.  East Coast fisheries managers will meet this spring to determine what slot-size, daily limit or season changes may be necessary to safeguard the future of this prized game fish. Stay tuned.

Striped bass from waters at northern end of Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

Striped bass from waters at northern end of Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

Anglers looking to fight a large striped bass should consider fishing with live eels in the area from Plantation Light to the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. This is now strictly a catch-and-release zone, but may provide the best bass access as the hoped for ocean fishery has been slow to develop.   Schools of ocean-run bass have been sighted by tuna trollers, but so far have stayed well outside the 3-mile limit.

Rudee Inlet and Lynnhaven Inlet are still providing action for quality speckled trout and some puppy drum. Gulp with a jig will catch both  species but MirrOlures have recently enticed specks as large as a Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament 29-inch release citation.  Successful MirrOlure colors have been lures with brown backs and orange bellies. For swim baits, chartreuse is typically the top soft plastic choice.   Specks and pups normally feed better following a few days of warmer sunny weather.

Bluewater trollers working Norfolk Canyon have enjoyed some success with yellowfin and blackfin tuna. So far, bluefin tuna have only been available to Rudee Inlet captains making the long run to the region south of Virginia Beach waters.

Hot Spot: Continental Shelf

Best Bites

A nice catch of speckled trout & puppy drum from Lynnhaven Inlet

A nice catch of speckled trout & puppy drum from Lynnhaven Inlet

Inlets: Speckled trout

Chesapeake Bay: Striped bass (release fishing)

Offshore Wrecks: Tautog

Continental Shelf: Golden tilefish

See you on the water. Tight lines and hard strikes to all!

Capt. Mike


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Unplug in Virginia Beach

January 13th, 2015 by Guest Blogger

Need a Digital Detox?

Try a 48-hour unplug in Virginia Beach

By Megan Shearin, Virginia Beach CVB

If you’re like most Americans, finding time to unplug from work in today’s digital world can be challenging.  In fact, a recent survey from the U.S. Travel Association found that 40 percent of workers will leave vacation days on the table in 2014.

2015 is the start of a new year, a year where health and well-being will not be sacrificed.  So, the next time you’re feeling like you need a digital detox from social media, email and all the other stimuli surrounding you, shake things up a bit and unplug in Virginia Beach for 48 hours.  Here are a few ideas to give your brain a much-needed break:

vkayakbeachsunset_smallerMild Temperatures = Outdoor Adventure

Virginia Beach’s mild winter weather means it’s always prime time to be outside at one of Virginia Beach’s nature parks. Explore First Landing State Park, Virginia’s most-visited state park, offering 20 miles of hiking and bike trails.  Don’t forget to take advantage of monthly educational programs that include hiking, surf fishing and animal tracking – fun for the whole family.  Instead of looking at a screen, bike through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge or False Cape State Park, and discover miles of unspoiled beaches in an ocean-to-freshwater bay habitat, barrier islands, dunes, freshwater marshes, maritime forests, ponds and ocean beaches.

Chesapeake Bay cottages

Eat, Think and Be Merry

Calm waves and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets can be found at the Chesapeake Bay, which is home to multiple seafood restaurants and decks overlooking gorgeous views of the Lynnhaven Inlet.  Push the off switch and spend the day walking the shores, or pack a beach chair and a good book and listen to waves gently crash ashore.  For the foodies in the family, the unique combination of southern flavor and coastal cuisine will leave your taste buds satisfied.  Engage in first-person conversations and dine on fresh Chesapeake Bay blue crabs, salty Lynnhaven oysters, or just-caught fish such as Croaker, Flounder, Red Drum, Sea Bass and Speckled Trout.  And don’t forget to ask for extra melted butter – and cocktail sauce.

fishing

Drop A Line

Known as the “striped bass capital of the world,” fall and winter are some of the best months for fishing in Virginia Beach.  Massive schools of rockfish can be found just miles off shore.  An added bonus is that many restaurants will cook the succulent fish caught straight from your boat.  The day starts early, so make sure to grab a good cup of coffee before heading out the door.  Layers of warm clothing, sunglasses and gloves are a must for fishing this time of year.  While gazing off into the horizon as your boat trolls along, don’t be surprised to spot humpback whales, dolphins, seals or seabirds.  We welcome all types of visitors at Virginia Beach.
Use the New Year to make your well-being a priority.  Cut the cord from the digital world, recharge your battery and unplug in Virginia Beach.

Megan Shearin is a Public Relations Specialist with the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family at the beach, fishing and being active outdoors.


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Resolved to take a culinary adventure this year? Virginia Beach Restaurant Week is the perfect time to try something new!

January 12th, 2015 by Teresa Diaz

Courtesy of VBRA

Courtesy of VBRA

The beginning of the year is the perfect to time try something new, and with Restaurant Week being a glorious nine days this year (Jan. 10 – 19), we thought it would be fun to look through the menus and suggest some “out of the box” culinary masterpieces for you to try. Now in its tenth year, more than 90 restaurants in ten sections of the city are participating in this awesome week of culinary magic! You can click here for all the menus but you’ll have to do the work to find these amazing dishes. No worries; your taste buds will thank you!

Bleu Crab Bacon Mushrooms – Button mushrooms stuffed with gorgonzola cheese & lump crabmeat, wrapped in Applewood-smoked bacon & baked to perfection

Sweet Potato Salmon – Local sweet potatoes, citrus lime Beurre Blanc, parmesan risotto, garlic-spiked spinach, Sweet Thai Chile sauce

Tiropita – Barrel-aged Greek feta and fresh herbs baked in phylo

Hoseh – Ground Beef sautéed in olive oil, minced garlic, diced tomatoes and traditional spices spread over a layer of hummus. Garnished with toasted pine nuts and served with fresh pita bread

Etouffee –Shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, crawfish tails, Andouille sausage, rice

Ropa Vieja – Slow roasted, shredded flank steak mixed with peppers, garlic, onions, and spices. Served over arroz moro, and caramelized onions then finished with a red mole and green enchilada sauce

Creamed Sweet Potato with Applewood Bacon topped with Flash Fried Oysters

Duck Confit with Local Maple and dried Cherry Glaze

Gobi Manchurian – Cauliflower, onions, tomatoes, spice

Vitello Francese – Veal cutlet, lightly egg battered and pan sautéed with lemon, white wine, butter and your choice of fresh mushrooms or baby artichokes, served with pasta

Why not book a last minute getaway to Virginia Beach and see just how many of these you can check off your culinary bucket list between now and the 19th? Bon Appétit!


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Chill Fest – Three Events, One Gift of a Week

January 9th, 2015 by Teresa Diaz

chillfest-heroAlong with fabulous beaches and awesome people, Virginia Beach offers rich and diverse opportunities for culinary delights and cultural excitement. Wherever you go in the city, you’ll discover a wide variety of restaurants offering international cuisine, American fare, and, of course, great seafood. As an emerging epicenter for craft brews and Virginia wines, Virginia Beach is also the home to wonderful art centers and galleries. Roll all of those together and you have Chill Fest : Three Events, One Gift of a Week.

Read on to learn how a visit to Virginia Beach this month can help beat the post-holiday blues. Why not join us for a quick getaway? Come chill in Virginia Beach – you know you deserve it!

1) FOOD

Virginia Beach Restaurant Week

Celebrate 10 years with 10 days of culinary creativity, January 10-19, 2015

Virginia Beach Restaurant Week is the culinary event of the year with area chefs showcasing their creativity and restaurants offering specialty priced lunches and dinners. Choose from more than 80 different restaurants and help celebrate the 10th anniversary of this amazing week as master chefs serve up innovative menus featuring tantalizing culinary creations. Virginia Beach Restaurant Week features two course lunches for $10 and three course dinners starting at $20. For a full list of participating restaurants and their menus, click here.

Local’s tip: Reservations fill quickly; call NOW!

2) ART

MOCA Art Trail at the Coastal Virginia Wine Fest

January 17 – 18, 2015

A show within a festival: take your time and chill as you take in the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Art Trail, a unique art show within the Coastal Virginia Wine Fest at the fabulous Virginia Beach Convention Center. Enjoy the authentic work of more than 100 Virginia painters, sculptors, agra-artisans, and jewelers.

Local’s tip: Want to go? Keep reading! :)

3) WINE

Coastal Virginia Wine Fest

January 17 – 18, 2015

The Virginia Beach Convention Center is “the place to chill”  for this year’s premiere weekend of Chill Fest: the Coastal Virginia Wine Fest. Sample wine from up to 40 Virginia wineries while enjoying the MOCA Art Trail, then visit a Virginia craft beer garden featuring 8 popular breweries with a fabulous lounge. View and purchase the wares of up to 80 other vendors showcasing the best in specialty foods, arts and crafts. Enjoy educational seminars, live entertainment and a grape stomp competition where local celebrities will “stomp it out” and more. For tickets and the full details, click here.

Local’s tip: There’s an awesome after party on Saturday: don’t wait – this event sells out every year!

So now that you’re schooled, it’s time to book your visit to Virginia Beach and come get your chill on!

See you there!


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