Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Seal harassment and grasshopper invasions

I know this blog doesn’t reach the entire beachgoing realm but maybe it reaches enough folks to get word out that a real headache is developing, surrounding the huge gray seal now frequenting the beachline, north end of the Island.

Sheila Dean, co director of The Brigantine Marine Mammal Stranding Center, is making a plea that LBI folks simply leave the big marine mammal alone. She is all but begging folks to steer well clear of the 300-pound-plus pinniped. 

Having seen that gray seal myself, I can attest that it is one big dude -- and maybe not even full-grown. The thing is, its size alone demands long breaks on the beach. That’s not so easy. Not unlike the musical artist Seal, every time he makes a public appearance, he is swarmed over by the admiring - and maddening – crowds.

Again, I saw it first-hand. Last Sunday in Harvey Cedars, seal, the marine mammal, could easily be seen floating about 40 yards off the beach. Now and again, it would try to come ashore. And the crowds would swarm the closer it got – at one point it even entered the shorebreak waves less than ten feet from the sand. Dozens of beachites actually began to wade into the water, as if to get up close and personal with 300-pound-plus biter. Yes, biter.

One of Sheila’s big fears is this exhausted and frustrated creature will go on the attack, deciding it’s time to demonstrably exert its power and attacking skills. Should the massive mammal choose to essentially take over the beach for itself, there will be no contest. Any humans within biting range will lose. 

I will also obligatorily add the legal angle regarding the disturbing, annoying or harassing of marine mammals. Through an act of Congress, it’s a federal offense to do what is currently being done by beachgoers, i.e. swarming toward the creature. Though the law is seldom enforced, there’s a point where the law says enough is enough -- and you suddenly find yourself standing sheepishly in federal court, being charged with marine mammal harassment. That will not look good on a resume or when applying for a home remortgage lone.



Going from the sublime (marine mammals are sublimely cool) to the ridiculous, I’ve been inundated with calls and emails about grasshoppers. You read right. The north end of LBI Island has been over washed, as it were, with large flying grasshoppers, technically known as locusts. Yes, as in plague locusts.

Complicating the nomenclature is the fact we use the term “locust” to identify the famed periodic cicadas, a.k.a. 17-year locusts. We then call the true locusts “grasshoppers.”

Whichever name you chose, there are unexplained thousands covering beaches and backyards from roughly North Beach northward.

While only a mild annoyance to most folks, some young kids have gone spastic when a few locusts have landed on them. All grasshoppers have small hooks on their legs that allow them to hold onto things like nobody’s business. That cling-to capacity can get even adults hoppin’ and swattin’ to de-bug themselves.

There is no easy or instantaneous explanation to cover this minor invasion of the locusts. Odds are it’s just one of those hatch things. My weekly column (www.jaymanntoday.ning.com) mentions how virtually all insects have population explosions.

There’s no discounting the possibility that last week’s horrific mainland air temps somehow spurred the highly-mobile locusts to abandon the mainland ship.

Just as feasible is the possibility that a single super-cell thunderstorm lifted the locusts off the mainland and deposited them over here. In fact, a number of large thunderstorms petered out right along the shore a week back. Just such storms have led to massive sky drops of sundry objects -- objects essentially sucked into updrafts related to the supercell storms.

Things much larger than grasshoppers have come raining down, compliments of storm updrafts. I was in the south once right after it rained frogs – a not uncommon occurrence. Grossly, I had to wiper them off my windshield.

Here’s one of my favorite such stories: 

“On the other side of the world, at the end of February, it rained fish in Lajamanu, Australia. Located in the desert hundreds of miles from any open source of water, villagers saw perch fingerlings rain from the sky for 2 days. This small community has now had fish rains on three separate occasions over a 30-year period. Residents are not used to the rare event, often feeling as if they have gone crazy when it does rain fish. One resident and eyewitness, Mrs. Balmer, told reporters, “I haven't lost my marbles. Thank god it didn't rain crocodiles."

The actual paths of the storm cells leading to the Australian fish downpours were later mapped by meteorologists. Sure enough, the fish came crashing down right as the storms lost their oomph.  

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