Chesapeake Quarterly is the magazine of Maryland Sea Grant at the University of Maryland. Maryland Sea Grant receives funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the state of Maryland. Bay Journal is a newspaper that covers the Chesapeake Bay region. Both publications jointly produced the content in this special report about how sea level rise presents challenges for the people, communities, and ecology of the Bay region. Staff members from each publication authored separate articles and other material. Content from this report also will appear in print in both publications.
This was the last house on Holland Island in the Chesapeake Bay. It stood for more than a century, one of about 70 homes on the island, where some 360 people once lived. But as the estuary's water level rose, the island eroded, and by 1918 all of the inhabitants left. By early in the 21st century, only this house remained, surrounded by water at every high tide. Its last owner, the Rev. Stephen White, a Methodist minister, spent thousands of dollars from his own pocket trying to save the house by building up the shoreline around it with sandbags and other materials. But in October 2010, the house was swept into the Bay by encroaching waves.
Photographer David Harp took this shot in May 2009. He held his camera low to the water's surface to capture the effect shown. "I remember photographing there years before when there was a lawn there," he recalls. "I played softball on that lawn. There was ample space to play, not far from the house." Harp took the photo while standing in the same spot where he had played ball — except "I was in water up to my knees."