Posts Tagged 'inner harbor'



Thoughtful Thursdays: Native Garden Planting at Pier 6 Pavilion

The National Aquarium, in partnership with Rams Head and the Pier 6 Concert Pavilion, recently converted an unused area of turf on the western slope of the pavilion into a native plant garden!

Before and after

This new garden will help filter runoff and provide food and habitat for local pollinators and birds, as well as educate concert-goers on how beautiful and carefree a bay-friendly garden can be. Kyle Muellhauser, owner of Rams Head and a big supporter of the National Aquarium, approached our Conservation team and asked if we would be interested in using the space for an educational display. As we discussed ideas, we focused on something that would be attractive to visitors and also could inspire them to look at their own yards in a new way.

By planting native plants at home, you are not only providing food and habitat for wildlife, you are also decreasing the amount of fertilizer, water, and time needed to create and maintain an attractive yard. We chose native, drought-tolerant plants that would add interest to the site and would need little long-term care. Included in the list of plants were black-eyed susans, Christmas ferns, tickseed, blazing stars, American holly, joe-pye weed, and bee balm.

Two staff horticulturists took the lead on the project and designed the garden. They used similar plants and ideas from our Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Waterfront Park, a much more extensive version of a Maryland native garden. By choosing species that are native to this area and are proven to thrive in downtown Baltimore, we can be assured that this new garden will continue to educate visitors for years to come. The next time you attend a concert at the Pier 6 Concert Pavilion, don’t forget to check out the garden to see what is in bloom and get inspired to create your own bay-friendly garden. Click here to get started with ideas!

The crew!

Masonville Cove Grass Plantings

Baltimore Harbor shorelines are looking a little greener thanks to the work of local students and community volunteers!  The National Aquarium partnered with the Maryland Port Administration, Living Classrooms Foundation, Maryland Environmental Service, and BayBrook Coalition to restore wetlands at Masonville Cove, near the Brooklyn and Curtis Bay neighborhoods of Baltimore City.

On May 14 and 15, more than 6,000 marsh grasses were planted by 187 fifth-grade students and chaperones from area schools at the Masonville Cove wilderness conservation area.  This is one small part of a large-scale environmental restoration of the entire cove, which is creating waterfront access in an area that was once an industrial site.

On May 18 and 19, a second portion of Masonville shoreline was planted with 17,000 wetland grasses!  The Aquarium first brought volunteers to this fringe wetland in October of 2011 to plant salt bush shrubs, and this recent planting completes the shoreline by filling in all of the tidal zones with the appropriate plants.  More than 112 volunteers helped with this effort, including groups from Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove, Baltimore Maritime Academy, Canton Kayak Club and more!

Interested in further volunteer opportunities regarding Masonville Cove? Come to an informational meeting about the Friends of Masonville Cove group on Thursday, May 31, at 5:30 p.m. at the Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center. Find out more information below:

Click here for more information about Masonville Cove, including community programming and additional volunteer opportunities. You can also follow Friends of Masonville Cove on Facebook for more information!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Algae Bloom in the Bay

Have you noticed a murky tint to Baltimore’s Harbor lately? A “mahogany tide” of reddish-brown algae (Prorocentrum minimum) has invaded our local waters.

Reddish-brown water just outside the National Aquarium

“What we’re seeing here appears to be what’s called a mahogany tide,” says National Aquarium specialist Susan Bitter. “Unfortunately, it isn’t exotic and it isn’t as interesting and tasty as it sounds.”

Watch Susan explain about the mahogany tide on WJZ:

Algae blooms can be very damaging to life in the Bay. The algae live for only a short time, but when they die, the bacteria that eat the algae suck much-needed oxygen out of the water, creating “dead zones.” The lack of oxygen in the water makes it hard for the aquatic plants and animals that live there to survive, potentially causing large-scale fish kills.

Algae blooms occur each spring in the Chesapeake Bay at varying intensities. We had a mild winter, and record-high water temperatures are being recorded all over the Chesapeake. The warm water not only encourages the algae growth, but also makes the bacteria that feed on them more active, drawing more oxygen out of the water.

Excess nutrients in the water are the primary cause of harmful algae blooms. We can all play a part in reducing the nutrients that are introduced into our local streams.

The Aquarium recently participated in the launch of floating wetlands into the Harbor, which help absorb nutrients from the water.

Everyone can help by adopting bay-friendly lawn care practices: plant native plants that don’t need fertilizer; don’t fertilize in the spring, only in the fall, and only with the nutrients that are needed for your lawn (spring rains wash fertilizers off land and into the waterways). Take your car to the automatic carwash and let it do your dirty work. When you wash your car in your driveway, those chemicals run down into the storm drains, which feed directly into the Bay. Most sewer systems and wastewater treatment plants do not remove poisonous cleaners, and yard and car-wash chemicals make their way into local waterways. And finally, pick up after your pet, and if you’re on a septic system, make sure it’s functioning well.

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

Did the floating island float away?

If you’ve walked through the Inner Harbor lately, you may have noticed that the Aquarium’s floating island is missing! You may be wondering… did it float away? Is it vacationing in warmer, more-island-friendly climes? Has it been… dun dun dunnn… STOLEN?

Well, there is no Inner Harbor island-harboring thief on the loose. Conservation staff members removed it from the water because, after a year and a half, it needed a bit of repair and cleanup that could not be done easily or safely from the water.

The island getting towed out of the Inner Harbor

With the help of Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works trash boat and the Fire Department’s fire and rescue boat, it was moved to Fort McHenry.

As the water was too shallow for the boat, a Conservation team member pulled the floating island into shore in 40-degree water.

So, our island is not “LOST”… we just moved it temporarily. In the spring, it will be towed back to its original place and will again be visible, repair completed, and ready to provide habitat to all kinds of local critters.

At rest in the Fort McHenry wetlands


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