Saturday, July 16, 2011

Day 247

Yesterday, I mentioned I had a surprise reason for coming to Chincoteague that isn't just the beach. Today, we started off by going on a pontoon cruise of the waters between Chincoteague Island and Assateague Island. On Assateague Island live wild ponies. It's thought that the ponies arrived on the island due to a shipwreck of a Spanish boat. The ponies swam ashore and have generationally lived there since. Assateague Island is split by Virginia and Maryland. On the Virginia side, where the ponies are is protected and humans can't interact with them. However once a year (in a few days actually) The Saltwater Cowboys (the volunteer fire fighters) round up some of the ponies and auction them off to raise funds for the fire station. They have been doing this since the 1920s. On the Maryland side, they occupy a beach area that is open to humans. Once again, like the other beach, it's maintained by the state and doesn't have hotels along it because it's wetland. You will see photos from both sections of Assateague Island.

Starting with the boat tour...

These ponies are free to roam on several acres of land. The boat can only come so close to the shore. There were lots of them farther away from the shore line, but those photos aren't as clear. These two ponies were separate from the herd.

I forget what kind of birds these are, but they swim under the water to catch fish and sit up on these posts to dry their wings.

We got back on shore and changed into beach clothes, to head to the Maryland side. While on the way to the hotel, we stopped to let this duck family cross.

On the Maryland side, things are much different. These ponies were grazing on the sides of the road. They are very docile, but since they are wild animals, of course we didn't attempt to interact with them.

My two favorite travelers and the beautiful clean beach. Since there are no hotels, there is a lot less trash! Delightful!

This one was about two feet away from the car.

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