Five Signs Spring Is Returning 

Five Signs Spring Is Returning: This year, the spring equinox falls on Tuesday, March 20. We have already ‘sprung forward," are increasing sunlight hours, and the first day of spring will see a nearly equal day and night. Equinox comes from the latin words aequus and nox which means “equal night.”

1. As sailors, we are already counting down the days until spring, and we have a special way of ringing in the season: sock burnings. Weird as it may sound to non-sailors, the burning of socks heralds the coming boating season when bare feet in boat shoes are the norm. Here are some upcoming sock burning events: March 18 at Ullman Sails Virginia, March 24 at the Annapolis Maritime Museum, and also March 24 at the Tidewater Marina for Havre de Grace Yacht Club. Find more details in our calendar.

Photo by Ken Tom for Annapolis Maritime Museum

2. Several migratory species filter in and out of the Chesapeake Bay during the year. The tundra swan, not to be confused with the invasive mute swan, migrates to the Bay during the autumn and winter months before returning to the arctic tundra of Canada and Alaska to breed. Tundra swans have long, slender necks and a black bill, while mute swans are easily distinguishable by their bright orange bill with a black knob at the base. 

3. While the tundra swans are leaving for their breeding grounds, ospreys are returning. Ospreys mate with the same partner for life and return each year to nest in the same area in which they were born. Adult male ospreys begin arriving at old nest sites toward early March, while less experienced breeders arrive later in the season. You can watch a live feed of an osprey family at the Chesapeake Conservancy's website. If you see your first osprey of the year, take a picture and/or send a photo to [email protected]

Photo by Matt Edmonds

4. Get ready to break out the Old Bay because recreational crabbing season officially opens on April 1. From opening day to July 14, minimum size limits are five inches for male hard crabs, three and a quarter inches for male peeler crabs, and three and a half inches for soft crabs for the duration of the season. 

5. If all that wasn’t enough, frostbiting is generally finishing up by late March which means (hopefully) winter is finally behind us. Water temperatures will still be rather cold, so be prepared and stay safe if going out on the water. If you snap a nice photo of a sock burning festival or ospreys returning, email to [email protected].