Can't live with it, can't live without it

April 29, 2007

The scarcity of seaweed in the Chesapeake Bay is now a cause for alarm, a sign of an ecosystem out of balance.

Back in April 1964, some saw seaweed in the Chesapeake Bay as an unsightly nuisance. The Sun reported that a woman named Pauline W. Remey complained to the county commission that "sea lettuce" on her bay properties caused noxious odors.

A political merry-go-round ensued.

The county board asked President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration what could be done about the problem. The White House asked the Department of the Interior, which referred the matter to the Maryland governor's office, which referred it to the state tidewater fisheries commission, which sent it on to the county member, Louis N. Phipps, Jr.

The political chain brought the complaint right back where it started: the local government. In politics, what goes up, must come down, a wag said at the time. Whether the bay is that sturdy is not so sure.

[Sources: The Sun archives and Paul McCardell, library researcher.]

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