Both Skimmer and the newly renamed Tern Island got the attention of the Natural Resources Police during the Memorial Day weekend, as officers issued warnings to tourists and boaters who tried to make the wildlife sanctuaries their own.
The islands in the bay are closed to humans from May to September because they have been set aside as nesting sites for endangered and threatened shorebirds.
For example, Skimmer Island is aptly named because it’s the only site in Maryland where black skimmers and royal terns can breed. According to the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, 12 species of birds nest there.
Royal terns lay only one or two eggs per season, sometimes in a shallow hole, sometimes on the bare sand in secluded areas. Black skimmers do much the same, and provide shade, not warmth, to the eggs before they hatch.
The eggs are generally camouflaged to blend in with the sand, which makes it difficult for humans to avoid them, and even harder for pets, which have been brought to the islands from time to time.