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  • Anglers gather aboard Captain Monty Hawkins' Morning Star for a day of fishing off Ocean City, Maryland.
  • For the past 34 years, Captain Monty’s office has been the wheelhouse of a fishing boat. The Conservancy is translating his knowledge of cold-water coral reefs into maps that will help inform ocean planning.
  • Ship's mates Jake Shaffer and Jake Knox deploy concrete oyster castles to help expand the Jimmy Jackson Memorial Reef. Coral will grow if you provide a foundation, Monty explains. “You can’t stop it.”
  • “We’re trying to figure out how much coral patch habitat remains out here,” says Jay Odell. “We know what is left is significant and needs to be conserved.”
  • Captain Monty at the helm of the Morning Star. Together, we’re seeking to conserve critical habitat on which fish — and Monty’s livelihood — depend.
  • The first catch of the day, a 20-pound mahi-mahi, comes aboard after a lucky strike on the way to Monty's target fishing spots.
  • A black sea bass — just before going back into the water.
  • Mate in Training Fletcher holding a flounder.
  • As the group fished, a reminder appeared on the horizon of just how busy our ocean can be.
  • Major mid-Atlantic ports serve as critical nodes in national and global transportation systems, handling over 9 million containers and 233 million tons of cargo in 2011.
  • A pod of Atlantic spotted dolphins took advantage of the waves created by the ship's bow, surfing alongside.
  • Larger cetaceans, like migrating whales, can be especially vulnerable to ship strikes. Better planning and understanding of how our ocean is used — by both people and nature — can offer solutions.
  • An angler fishes from the jetty as we re-enter the inlet at Ocean City, Maryland.
  • View of Ocean City from the Morning Star. At least 57 million people live work, and play along the mid-Atlantic coast. Return to story
Passport to Nature: The Captain's Quest
Searching for fish and cold-water coral reefs off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland.  (all photos © Daniel White/TNC)

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