CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. — An Eastern Shore tradition celebrated by Marguerite Henry’s book “Misty of Chincoteague” marked its 90th year today.

The annual swim of the tough little ponies from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island took place early Wednesday, after a group of volunteers called the “Saltwater Cowboys” rounded up the ponies and lead them through the passage at slack tide.

An auction of a portion of the herd benefits the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Department.

Pony week on the Virginia barrier island was missing a key player this year, however. The prolific “Surfer Dude” was found dead this spring, leaving dozens of ponies he sired to continue his legacy.

Some islanders called him the Misty of his day. During his 23 years, Surfer Dude often led the swim to Chincoteague.

Here are some photos from this year’s event:

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CHINCOTEAGUE, VA - JULY 29:  Wild ponies are herded into the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. Wild ponies were rounded up on the national wildlife refuge and herded across the channel to be auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA – JULY 29: Wild ponies are herded into the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. Wild ponies were rounded up on the national wildlife refuge and herded across the channel to be auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA - JULY 29:  Wild ponies are herded into the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. Wild ponies were rounded up on the national wildlife refuge and herded across the channel where some will be auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA – JULY 29: Wild ponies are herded into the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. Wild ponies were rounded up on the national wildlife refuge and herded across the channel where some will be auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA - JULY 29:  Wild ponies are herded into the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. Wild ponies were rounded up on the national wildlife refuge and herded across the channel where some will be auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA – JULY 29: Wild ponies are herded into the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. Wild ponies were rounded up on the national wildlife refuge and herded across the channel where some will be auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA - JULY 29:  Wild ponies come ashore from the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA – JULY 29: Wild ponies come ashore from the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA - JULY 29:  People stand in the marsh to watch wild ponies swimming across the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA – JULY 29: People stand in the marsh to watch wild ponies swimming across the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA - JULY 29:  Wild ponies are herded toward the carnival grounds after they swam across Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA – JULY 29: Wild ponies are herded toward the carnival grounds after they swam across Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

<> on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia.

<> on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia.

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA - JULY 29:  Seven-year-old Carlin Makibbin of Ocean City, Maryland, kisses a wild pony after ponies swam across the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some ponies are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA – JULY 29: Seven-year-old Carlin Makibbin of Ocean City, Maryland, kisses a wild pony after ponies swam across the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some ponies are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA - JULY 29:  People stand in the marsh to watch wild ponies swimming across the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some ponies are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA – JULY 29: People stand in the marsh to watch wild ponies swimming across the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some ponies are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA - JULY 29:  People leave as they walk in the marsh after they watched wild ponies swimming across the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some ponies are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA – JULY 29: People leave as they walk in the marsh after they watched wild ponies swimming across the Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some ponies are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA - JULY 29:  Spectators pat wild ponies after they swam across Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some ponies are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CHINCOTEAGUE, VA – JULY 29: Spectators pat wild ponies after they swam across Assateague Channel during the annual pony swim event from Assateague Island to Chincoteague on July 29, 2015 in Chincoteague, Virginia. After crossing from the national wildlife refuge, some ponies are auctioned off by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company during the 90th annual event. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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