The last time we spoke about butterflies with Pete Dunne, Chief Communication Officer for the Cape May Bird Observatory, he said: “They’re beautiful, and our species delights in beautiful things. We like creatures that take great risks. The idea of a great migration is evocative.” But when it comes to monarchs, ‘great’ migration might be an understatement. Pete described for us how these creatures, weighing just half a gram each, make a 2,000-mile journey from eastern Canada to Mexico each year. Sometimes tens of thousands of them pass through Cape May in the fall, and sometimes millions do, resulting in a spectacle that’s been described as kaleidoscope-like.
Each year since 1991, researchers with the Monarch Monitoring Project have set out three times a day between September 1 and October 31 to conduct a census. They tag thousands of butterflies with pieces of coded adhesive paper that allow us to gather invaluable information about migration patterns. Because of these tags, a monarch was once identified in Cape May, and then tracked down 140 miles to the south… the very next day. The results are fascinating.
So we were unsettled when we heard that fewer butterflies than average have made an appearance for the 2013 study, making this the third-lowest result in census history, according to a report from 2013 Field Technician Samm Wehman. Granted, butterfly migrations are cyclical. “Wild fluctuations are not uncommon,” says Mark Garland, Communications Director for the project. In fact, he told us, the second-highest year on record came two years after the all-time lowest. And then, there is the increasing amount of butterfly gardens in the state of New Jersey which count as a check in the no-need-to-panic column. “Many people with an interest in wildlife have realized how easy it is to grow the type of plants that butterflies need to survive,” Mark says.
But… we still worry. It is possible that manmade obstacles are playing a factor in the low census count, Mark says. These include illegal logging in Mexico, which reduces a butterfly’s sanctuary size, and the use of pesticides and genetically modified corn plants in the United States. “There is a lot of concern about environmental chemicals,” Mark says. “One of the major problems is the use of herbicide. You spray that on crops, and weeds don’t grow… including the milkweed that monarch caterpillars depend on.”
So what can we do? For starters, we can stop buying genetically modified corn, but that’s an article for another day. In the meantime, help support the Monarch Monitoring Project’s research by adopting a tagged butterfly. For $25, you’ll receive a certificate that details the tagging information of your monarch and, if it’s found again, an update on its location. For more information, call 609-884-2736. “This is truly one of the most phenomenal migrations in the world,” Mark says. “And the study of it gives us long-term data. When we have a sense that populations are changing, having that data can help us change policies, and that’s a powerful thing.”
All That Jazz
Last week, we told you about Grammy award-winning jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves, who is performing at this year’s Exit 0 International Jazz Festival, happening in Cape May venues this weekend. Not that you need more reasons to come, but we’ll give you nine… that’s how many venues will be offering world-class music throughout Cape May. Or how about 36… that’s the number of titles in Eddie Palmieri’s brilliant discography. A headliner at this year’s festival, Eddie is a Grammy-award winning Salsa and Latin jazz musician. And while we’re talking about numbers… how about 30? That’s the number of years that Kenny Garrett has been playing… and becoming, arguably, the most imitated alto sax player in jazz. There are too many artists from too many countries bringing too many musical personalities to list here… check out exit0jazzfest.com for the full lineup, and ticket information. We’ll see you in the audience.
One of our writers recently scratched her cornea — don’t sleep in your contacts, folks. As you can imagine, this was not a pleasant experience. What WAS pleasant was the resulting visit to Cape Urgent Care, where everyone was, as per usual, efficient, knowledgeable, and just… well, smiley. Doctor Kenneth Cramer recommended a couple of different eye drops, and while our writer was filling that prescription at CVS, her cellphone rang. It was an Urgent Care employee wanting to know the name of our writer’s pharmacy. The Urgent Care staff had found a coupon for the prescribed eye drops, and rather than have her drive back in to pick it up, they offered to call the information in to the pharmacist themselves. Later that evening, when our writer found herself confused about which drops to use when, she called Urgent Care (they are open until 9pm seven days a week), and was immediately put through to the doctor who had seen her earlier. For so many people, Cape May is a peaceful escape from the real world, but even in our favorite place of respite, things can go wrong, and it’s nice to know that when they do, there are people you can turn to… no appointment necessary.
We talked to Scott White, affiliate of United Yacht Sales, right before sending this issue to press about the Fourth Annual Striper Tournament United Yacht Sales is hosting on November 9, and he told us there are still a few spots left before the competition is capped, which will happen at 25 boats. But even if you’re not interested in competing for cash (read: $2,000 for first place), competing for any of the more unusual prizes (who would have thought that the boat which nabs the lightest striper is also a deemed a winner), or taking part in the part that follows the event, you should at least go for the weigh-in from 3-5pm at Cape May Marina. “It’s so entertaining to see the boats and what they’ve caught,” Scott told us. “Just today, a striped bass weighing 50 pounds was brought in. These are nice fish to look at.” The largest this tournament has seen? He was 46 pounds. Think you can beat it? Call Scott at 609-780-0309, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
East Lynne Theater Trivia Night
On 11/7, it’s a musical trivia contest at 7pm, but not before hor d’oeuvres at 5:30pm and delicious food from Aleathea’s at 6pm. There will also be a 50/50 raffle and silent auction. Call 609-884-5898.
On 11/7, meet Captain Jeff Stewart of the Cape May Whale Watcher. He loves lighthouses; one lighthouse in particular, the Brandywine Lighthouse. Actually, BOTH Jeff Stewarts do since this father-son team not only own and operate Cape May whale-watching excursion vessels, but they also now own the Brandywine Shoal Lighthouse, situated in the Delaware Bay. The future of the Brandywine Lighthouse will be the topic of the next Harborside Chat this night at the Nature Center of Cape May, beginning at 6pm.
Exit 0 International Jazz Festival
From 11/8-11/10, the jazz fest is back, bringing world-class musicians from all over the globe to nine Cape May venues. Check out exit0jazzfest.com.
On 11/9, for a $300 entry fee, see if you can bring in the big one. Fishing starts at 12:01am. First place prize is $2000. For more information, call Scott White at 609-780-0309.
Annual Holiday Bake Sale And Bazaar
On 11/9, from 9am to 1pm, enjoy yummy homemade foods (hot turkey platter, hotdogs, grilled cheese, soups, barbecue) and browse new and like-new items at St Barnabas Episcopal Church. Call 609-886-2625.
Veterans Day Ceremony
On 11/11, honor our veterans with this special commemorative ceremony, which starts at 11am at the Columbia Avenue monument. Call 609-884-9565.
On 11/14, Kiwanis Club of Cape May hosts this event (and provides snacks!) at 1041 Beach Avenue. 6:30-9pm. Call Sheila Williams at 609-884-7633.
Fourth Winter Wonderland Christmas Parade Fundraiser
On 11/14, bring your family and friends to celebrate and kick off the most wonderful time of year in the beautiful Ballroom at Congress Hall. There will be live entertainment, including story time with Mrs Claus and Blue the pig. Enjoy your first hot chocolate of the season along with other sweet and savory treats while shopping the silent auction for early holiday gifts. The donation request is $20 per person. Children 12 and under are welcome at no charge. For tickets and information, call 609-884-8421.
10th Annual Yuletide Bazaar
On 11/16, the First Presbyterian Church will hold this Dickens-inspired event from 9am to 3pm. Shop needlework, books, attic treasures, children’s toys and games, baked goods, jewelry, Christmas decorations, hand-made gifts, theme baskets and a silent auction. Call 884-6652.
Holiday Preview Weekend
From 11/22-11/24, at the Physick Estate, there is food, tours, wine, a tree-lighting ceremony and trolley rides for the kids. Call 609-884-5404.
26th Annual Community Messiah Sing-a-long
On 11/29, this event will be presented at at Cape Island Baptist Church at 7pm. Free. Refreshments. Call Ruth at 609-886-5862.
Holiday Crafts Fair
On 11/29 and 11/30, shop for handmade gifts and seasonal decorations from 10am to 4pm at Convention Hall. Admission is $2. Call 609-884-5404.
Seventh Annual Hospitality Night
On 12/6, it’s the merriest time of year to experience Lower Township.
On 12/6, turn up at 6:30pm and watch teh lights come on at Rotary Park, in the center of downtown Cape May. And look out for Santa. If you’ve been naughty this year, here’s your chance to plead your case. For more information, callt he city at 609-884-9565.
Crafts At Christmas Show
On 12/7, if you’re still looking for that perfect tree-topper, head to Convention Hall between 10am and 4pm for for handmade gifts and seasonal decorations and, most importantly, a big, fat dose of Christmas spirit. Call the city at 609-884-9565.
West Cape May Christmas Parade
On 12/7, bring some hot chocolate and a cozy jacket and prepare to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This is one of the very best small-town parades in the northeast; there are 12 marching bands. The parade starts at 5pm and works its way up Broadway.
Playing Now At Cape May Stage
A Walk In The Woods: Two superpower arms negotiators— one a witty but cynical Russian veteran and the other an idealistic American newcomer — meet informally in the woods after long frustrating hours at the bargaining table. October 23-November 16. Thursdays through Saturdays, 7pm. Saturdays and Sundays, 3pm. Call 609-884-1341.
Playing Soon At East Lynne Theater
Christmas with Harte and O. Henry: Christmas tales from the old West written by Bret Harte and O. Henry, presented in storytelling fashion by Artistic Director Gayle Stahlhuth, who has been praised by reviewers and audiences for her portrayals of 30-plus roles in the telling of one tale. November 29 through December 14. 8pm. Visit eastlynnetheater.org for details.
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