Phillips Wharf Environmental Center on Tilghman Island, Md. is inviting the public to its Sat., Feb. 15 Sip & Socialize Speaker Series for a talk on the Chesapeake Bay’s Chessie, and the story of the legendary serpent’s rise and fall, and the many ways in which the creature’s career intersected with life on the shores of the nation’s largest estuary.
The event starts at 5 p.m. in Phillips Wharf classroom, beginning with wine, refreshments, and light snacks served before the presentation. Following the speaker presentation will be time for discussion.
Sip & Socialize speaker Eric A. Cheezum, PhD will share the story of the legendary sea monster that surfaced in 1978 out of the Potomac River’s waters. Cheezum is a Preston, Md. native, where he operates a family farm and researches, writes, and teaches history. He received his PhD in U.S. History from the University of South Carolina in 2007.
“Initially reported in rural Virginia, the serpent was propelled to stardom by newspapers looking for stories to offset the August news doldrums,” says Cheezum. “By 1980, the creature—now dubbed “Chessie”—had migrated into the Chesapeake Bay’s northern section. Reputed to be friendly and non-threatening, the estuarine serpent quickly became a major pop culture sensation in Maryland.”
Cheezum says in 1982, a couple filmed what they thought was the monster, beginning a serious scientific debate over the existence of what zoologists and video analysts termed the “Chesapeake Bay Phenomenon.”
“Three years later and now at the zenith of its celebrity, Chessie was nearly protected under state environmental law, and for the second half of the decade its image was appropriated for use in environmental advocacy,” continued Cheezum. “Then, after fifteen years of fame, sightings stopped coming in.”
Bring your curiosity and questions to the Sip & Socialize, as Eric has a wealth of knowledge to share.Phillips Wharf Environmental Center’s Sip & Socialize Winter Speaker Series is free, with donations gratefully accepted.
Phillips Wharf Environmental Center’s Sip & Socialize Winter Speaker Series features volunteers, experts, and Chesapeake Bay industry professionals on topics pertinent to the Chesapeake Bay, wildlife and environmental changes, with more in the series posted at phillipswharf.org.
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