Posts Tagged 'floating wetland'

Thoughtful Thursdays: Creating a Healthy Harbor

Last Friday, the National Aquarium joined its partners from the Waterfront Partnership Baltimore, Biohabitats, Living Classrooms Foundation, Blue Water Baltimore, and Irvine Nature Center to launch another 2,000 square feet of floating wetlands into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Volunteers busily install native plants in the manmade wetlands

The first set of islands was installed in August 2010 as part of the Healthy Harbor Initiative, a campaign designed to create a swimmable, fishable harbor by 2020. Since then, we’ve been working with the University of Maryland Extension – Sea Grant to monitor the ecological services of the island by looking at nutrient uptake by the plants and colonization by aquatic organisms.

We’ve been able to show that the plants growing on the original wetlands were successful in removing excess nutrients from the water – one of the major problems here in the Chesapeake Bay. With the additional floating wetlands, we’ll be able to monitor their benefits more accurately and further improve water quality in our city.

This is one of the many initiatives the National Aquarium, Baltimore, is working on to improve water quality (and quality of life) in our city. We have also hooked up a 40,000-gallon cistern (giant rain barrel), installed a green roof on our newest building, and use native plants in our Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Waterfront Park.

Towing the wetland islands into the harbor

Join us: by installing a rain barrel or native plants at your home, you can help clean the water before it flows downstream. Get more tips on what you can do here. Together, we can make a fishable, swimmable harbor!

Wetlands installed in their new home

When given a chance, life flourishes

If visitors to the harbor could see below the surface of the water, they would see an abundance of aquatic life, from blue-fish and blue crabs to dozens of other species. They survive there despite the extremely poor water quality, which can often lead to fish kills and algae blooms.

Three months ago today we introduced an innovative approach to upgrade that water quality: manmade floating wetlands. Just three months into the project, we have seen that our wetland is becoming a complete, thriving ecosystem, with all the components you would expect to see in a marsh! This single wetland is telling us that when given a chance, life flourishes.

Our wetland is part of a pilot project that includes two other floating islands in the harbor, installed and managed by the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, a group that includes the Aquarium and Baltimore City. The goal? To prove that these wetlands have a positive effect on harbor habitat.

For the next two years, we will be collecting data to evaluate one island’s effect on water quality, with the Maryland Department of the Environment close by our side. The data we’ve already collected are promising! To help show you what we’re seeing, our cameras took a dive below the surface:

Our island was installed late in the summer, so the plants didn’t have an entire season to grow. Despite this, the plants have thrived. But the thriving plants above the island only tell a small part of the story. As you saw in the video, a lot of the action goes on beneath the island.

Continue reading ‘When given a chance, life flourishes’


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