The Beach Report – February 6, 2015

February 6th, 2015 by Teresa Diaz

FOR THE LOVE OF BIRD-WATCHING

Sea Gull SmallVirginia Beach – A Birders Paradise Virginia Beach is a birders paradise, with hundreds of different species sighted each year.  One particularly interesting class for bird-watchers is seabirds.   Also known as  marine birds, seabirds are birds that have adapted to living in the marine environment with a variety of lifestyles, behavioral patterns, and physiology. Here is a list of the various seabirds commonly spotted during the winter months along the coast of Virginia Beach. and information about an upcoming festival which is perfect for those looking for a “back to nature” weekend getaway!

1) Albatross – the legendary ones

Some of the largest flying birds, Albatrosses have narrow wings that allow them to stay in flight for a long period of time. They also possess webbed feet, making them able to walk on land with ease. There are several sub-species of Albatrosses, and most of them are classified under the endangered category. A new golfing term has been coined as a continuation on the birdie and eagle theme. If a golfer shoots three under par on a single hole, it is now called an “albatross.”  Also, these birds  have often been regarded as the souls of lost sailors.

pelicans2) Brown Pelicans – the cartoonish ones (like Nigel in “Finding Nemo”)

One of only three species of pelicans found in the Western Hemisphere, the brown pelican is a relatively small pelican that is known to feed by diving into the water. Like all pelicans, they have a large bill with a pouch on the bottom for draining water as it scoops up fish. They grow to be over four feet long and can have a wingspan of over eight feet.

cormorant3) Double-crested Cormorants – the sunbathers

These black fishing birds get their name for the nuptial crests (or little white tufts of feathers) located just above the eyes; these crests  are only visible on adult Cormorants during breeding season.  Their feathers are not waterproof, and since they hunt for fish by swimming and diving, they spend a great deal of time  drying their wings in the sun.

gannet

4) Gannet – the dive-bombers

These are large white birds which are yellowish towards their head; they are easily recognizable due to their black-tipped wings and long bills. Gannets have a large appetite, and their body structure is made up so that they can easily hunt fish.  They have reinforced skulls and air sacs to help them take sudden plunge dives, and binocular vision, which allows them to accurately judge distances.

purple sandpiper

5) Purple Sandpiper – the winter ones

These migratory sea birds are medium-sized and  breed in the northern tundra on Arctic islands in Canada and southern Greenland. They migrate down as far as the Carolinas and spend their time on rocky shores along the coast. Their name comes from the slight purplish sheen on their black feathers. The purple sandpiper can be seen moving along jagged rocks and jetties to gather food like arthropods, mollusks and plants.

Aren’t you ready to book that weekend getaway? Hope to see you soon!


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Three Beaches. One Vacation

February 5th, 2015 by Teresa Diaz

3 beach 1 vacay

FOR THE LOVE OF BEACHES
If you thought you knew Virginia Beach, this post may really surprise you. For many visitors, Virginia Beach means a visit to the mighty Atlantic Ocean, with umbrellas and beach towels for as far as you can see up and down the 3.5 mile boardwalk. It’s a fabulously exciting area of the city to be in and there’s always something to see and do……..music, street performers, fireworks, amusement rides, cafes and shopping. But what if you want a more relaxing, laid back vibe, maybe from a private, seaside deck?  Or a place where the waves break further out and hit the sand with a ripple so the little ones’ sandcastles stay intact? We can deliver on both those experiences. Read on to learn more about Virginia Beach……..three beaches, one vacation.

Three distinct beaches experiences, pristine natural wonders, a vibrant downtown district, fresh coastal cuisine and a variety of year-round festivals. This is the life, which is why it’s not surprising that Virginia Beach has been consistently ranked among the country’s best beach destinations. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Beach offers a coastal vacation that’s nothing short of extraordinary. Which one is for you?

At the Resort area, visitors can enjoy a stroll along the world-famous oceanfront boardwalk, as well as a fishing pier, an active inlet, and plenty of opportunities for biking, boating, kayaking, parasailing, and paddleboarding. Local restaurants and bars range from coastal cosmopolitan, roof-top venues to crab-and-oyster shacks.

  • Locals’ Tip: King Neptune, a 34-foot-tall cast bronze statue of the mythological sea god, is a must-stop for a selfie.

Chesapeake Beach is perfect for families with young children with its small, gentle waves which are ideal for splashing and swimming in the surf along the scenic Chesapeake Bay. It’s also a perfect beach for sandcastle building! The area is home to a marina and dockside seafood restaurants that offer outdoor dining and stunning sunset views over the Lynnhaven River.

Locals’ Tip: Visitors can catch both the sunrise and sunset from the same shore, thanks to the beach’s ideal location.

For the ultimate in secluded environments, the Sandbridge area – nestled up against the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge – provides sheer serenity. Here, visitors can stay at breathtaking ocean-view rental homes or condominiums, while enjoying biking excursions, surfing lessons or kayak adventures from local outfitters.

Locals’ Tip: Park the car, hop on a beach cruiser and get to know the neighbors at the local restaurants.


So, which one is for you? Want to see more? We thought so……..VisitVirginiaBeach.com.  This Is The Life. See you soon!


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One Good “Bill” Deserves Another!

February 1st, 2015 by Mike Halperin

Bill Gooch practicing his love of fly fishing

Bill Gooch practicing his love of fly fishing

Editor’s Note: All of our Shorelines posts in February will be themed around things we  LOVE in Virginia Beach. Enjoy!

FOR THE LOVE OF FISHING

Meet Virginia Beach resident and angler Bill Gooch. Although Bill is truly “hooked” on marlin fishing, he has been an avid angler since age four who enjoys pursuing multiple species while also participating in tagging programs.  Most people fish for enjoyment, yet others, like Bill Gooch, work to save pelagic species so future generations can always enjoy ocean fishing as a recreational sport from coastal cities like Virginia Beach.   His efforts, along with those of other taggers, help determine travel patterns that can optimize predictions of where and when to expect best fishing success.

As if the circle hook was not beneficial enough, Bill Gooch is also the architect of the “Observer Program” where knowledgeable anglers are placed aboard tournament boats to promote proper care, identification and release of fish. As a practice dating back to 1999, observers are now standard in most billfish tournaments. Additionally, in 2000, Bill founded the local Wine, Women and Fishing Tournament that benefits breast cancer research.

When not out fishing on his 36-foot center console “Chaos”, Bill works hard to help achieve the main goal of The Billfish Foundation (TBF), conservation of billfish and associated species such as bluefin and yellowfin tuna. As a current board member and past Chairman of the Board of TBF, Bill is passionate about saving these magnificent game fish including white and blue marlin, swordfish, sailfish, and spearfish. During Virginia Beach marlin season, typically August and September, Bill fishes regularly for white marlin.

Bluefin logoAs our local “link” to the international efforts of TBF, Bill, along with Captain Ron Hamlin, was responsible for the start of the circle hook approach to maximize mouth hook ups that ensure healthy releases. This revolutionary technique, first employed on the charter boat “Capt. Hook” in Guatemala in 1996, has since spread throughout the globe and is now a federal law and tournament requirement when ballyhoo or Spanish mackerel are used as billfish baits in all U. S. tournaments

In a recent interview Bill shared his thoughts and tips on Virginia Beach marlin fishing:

Question: Where does Virginia Beach rank internationally for billfishing opportunities?

Answer: In August and September, we have as many white marlin as anywhere in the world. In other words – a world-class fishery bar none.

Q: What makes Virginia waters so productive for marlin fishing?

A: Our canyon structure (Norfolk Canyon) holds an extraordinary amount of bait.

Q: Why aren’t more blue marlin caught off Virginia Beach?

A: They are out there, even some granders (1000 lb. plus fish). Most captains troll smaller baits which attract mostly white marlin. Bigger baits are needed for large blue marlin.  Try the 50-fathom curve for the biggest marlin.

Bill Gooch fighting a released 800 lb. plus blue marlin

Bill Gooch fighting a released 800 lb. plus blue marlin

Captain’s Note: As proof of  local grander possibilities, anyone visiting the Virginia Beach Fishing Center can see a taxidermy mount of Ed Given’s 1093 lb. blue marlin, caught in Virginia Beach waters in 1978.

Q: If you were looking for marlin, where would you fish?

A: The areas 50 miles north and south of Norfolk Canyon and then look for temperature breaks.

Q: What rod, reel, and line is your favorite for white marlin fishing?

A: I like a TLD 30 Fin Nor reel coupled with a 6-foot rod with Fuji speed guides.  Monofilament line of 30 lbs. and 50- to 100-lb. leader is preferred as insurance against the always possible blue marlin or tuna.

Q: What else would you share with readers?

A: Always be conservation minded.  We really need to protect species such as white marlin, bluefish and striped bass.  When conservation measures are followed, species have an amazing ability to rebound from low numbers.

Billfish anglers everywhere should rest easy knowing that people like Bill Gooch have taken up the cause to preserve and protect premier game fish like yellowfin tuna and blue marlin. Our thanks go out to Bill for a job well done – and we are proud to claim him as a Virginia Beach resident.

Wishing you tight lines, following seas, and hard strikes!

Capt. Mike

Captain’s Log: The March fishing blog will be a summary of the highs and lows of the 2014 Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament, typically a strong predictor of the year to come.  Regular every two-week fishing reports will resume as of April, 2015.

Why not take advantage of the mild weather and plan a fishing trip to Virginia Beach? Our shoulder season of October through May is the perfect time to save on many types of accommodations. Hope to see you soon!


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The Beach Report – January 30, 2015

January 30th, 2015 by Teresa Diaz

5 Unique Virginia Beach Gifts to Wow Your Valentine

Snitger sunriseVirginia is for Lovers and Virginia Beach is the perfect spot to celebrate this national day of all things L-O-V-E!  Here are 5 gifts ideas which are unique to Virginia Beach  - so how will you wow YOUR valentine?

1.  The Getaway – whether it’s a couples massage/spa package or room service all weekend long, Virginia Beach has the perfect answer for a special romantic getaway.

2. Horses on the Beach – Did you know Virginia Beach is the only beach destination on the East Coast where you can book a private, romantic horseback ride on the beach for you and your Valentine …….. need we say more?

3. Photo date with The King – Surprise your Valentine at Neptune’s Park when you arrive with a professional photographer ready to capture special moments in front of the iconic 34 ft. tall cast bronze statue of the Ruler of the Seas. Can’t quite swing that this year? No worries, here’s a Plan B: the selfie stick!

4. Your significant other said yes! Now put a ring on the just-right wedding destination – Virginia Beach. We are so into destinations weddings we’ve made it easy-breezy to plan your perfect wedding on the sand. Reserve your chosen spot on the beach with our Beach Wedding Permit, gift-wrap it and present your Valentine with an express pass to their dream beach wedding in Virginia Beach!

Doesn't get any fresher than plucking oysters for tasting straight from the Lynnhaven River - only in VB!/

It doesn't get any fresher than plucking & shucking oysters straight from the Lynnhaven River - only in VB!

5. Book a private Chef’s Table Tour with Pleasure House Oysters – Whether you’ve already treated your palate to a legendary Lynnhaven Oyster or have yet to take your first slurp, Pleasure House Oysters will delight your senses as you set out on the Lynnhaven River for an on-the-water experience unlike any other. See how Lynnhaven Oysters are harvested, all while enjoying their legendary flavor while you are in the Lynnhaven.

Virginia Beach is a fabulous year round destination.

Plan your trip today online or call one of our Visitor Information Specialists at  1 – 800 – VA – BEACH.


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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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