ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Skipjacks are a symbol of the Chesapeake Bay and the last working sail fleet in the country, but like the oysters they once harvested by the ton, their numbers are dwindling along with their catch.

Of the six believed to still be working on the Chesapeake, four have filed oyster harvest reports this season.

The captains of the Hilda M. Willing, the Thomas Clyde, the Fannie L. Daugherty and the Somerset have all reported pulling between 900 and 1,500 bushels of oysters from the bay so far this season.

Skipjacks were developed in the late 1800s after Maryland legalized sail dredging in 1865 and hundreds once plied the bay. A couple dozen skipjacks are still left, but most are owned by nonprofits and museums or used as pleasure boats.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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