Posts Tagged 'inner harbor'



Volunteers clean up Fort McHenry Wetland

Together, what can 83 volunteers accomplish on a Saturday morning?

In just four hours on Saturday, September 24, these volunteers, along with the Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!), removed 23,839 pieces of debris from the Fort McHenry Wetland in support of National Public Lands Day and the International Coastal Cleanup.

“Before I went through this experience, I never knew there was so much trash out there,” was one volunteer’s response to the overwhelming sight of the Patapsco River shoreline.

Fort McHenry Before Cleanup

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is a well-visited piece of history for both Baltimore residents and out-of-town visitors. The Fort McHenry Wetland, located adjacent to the Fort, can be seen from the popular walking path. As one of the very few living shorelines in Baltimore City, the 8-acre Fort McHenry Wetland is well functioning, doing exactly what it’s meant to do: remove excess nutrients from the water; provide habitat for local wildlife; and filter the marine debris that is carried in from the tide. Since 1998, ACT! has hosted multiple community-supported debris cleanups here.

Fort McHenry After Cleanup

Volunteers have dedicated 250 hours to remove the urban debris (aka trash) and maintain the butterfly and rain gardens located on the site. Partners for this event included the Steinweg Baltimore, Maryland Port Administration, REI, Royal Bank of Canada, Constellation Energy, Maryland Environmental Trust, Toyota, and the National Park Service. To participate in a future Fort McHenry Field Day or another ACT! event, sign up to receive the Aquarium’s Conservation e-newsletter, and we’ll let you know about upcoming conservation events.

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’

A picture-perfect reason not to litter

Yesterday, the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole swept through our region, bringing more than 6 inches of rain to the Baltimore area! The height of the storm came through Baltimore’s Inner Harbor mid-afternoon yesterday, just after high tide. As the storm progressed with heavy winds coming in from the east, water levels in the harbor continued to rise, and we began to notice that water wasn’t the only thing being pushed into the harbor. Tropical Storm Nicole picked up a lot of trash on her way into Baltimore.

The pictures below show trash buildup between Pier 4  and Pier 5 at about 5 p.m. yesterday. They present a very compelling case against littering!

All of this trash was accumulated as the storm pushed into the Inner Harbor from the Chesapeake Bay. This trash buildup is picture-perfect proof that everything runs downstream. You can bet that the majority of this trash was originally thrown on the ground, made its way into storm drains, and then into our waterways, which flow into the Bay.

Last weekend, the Aquarium’s Conservation Team and community volunteers picked up 22,000 pieces of trash that had accumulated at the Ft. McHenry wetland over the summer. That’s a lot of trash, but yesterday’s storm proved that there is still much more trash polluting our waterways!

You can help keep the bay and the harbor free of trash by keeping our streets free of trash. Dispose of your trash properly, and recycle as much as you can.

Snow or rain, it all flows downstream

If you live in a mid-Atlantic state you have probably seen crews tackling the huge job of removing more than 36 inches of snow that fell during two blizzards. In a city like Baltimore, packed with houses, cars, businesses and sidewalks, where do you put all that snow?  For this very unusual snow situation, Baltimore has turned to a very unusual option: after getting the required permission from the Maryland Department of the Environment, they have dumped snow into the Harbor. 

This has raised questions and debate about whether dumping the salt-laden snow into the Harbor will damage the health of the Harbor or affect the Bay.  The answer is yes, but the reason may surprise you. 

Dumping snow in the Harbor increases the pollution, but interestingly, dumping snow won’t necessarily be more environmentally harmful than a series of heavy storms. We are in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, where all precipitation – including melted snow – runs into storm drains, and eventually into the Harbor and the Bay. Along the way, that water picks up pollutants – dirt, oil, car exhaust and other sources – as it flows across our yards, sidewalks, roofs, driveways and streets into the nearest storm drain and downstream to the Harbor. Even melted snow or rain from surrounding counties makes its way to storm drains that all lead to the Harbor. This water does not go through some kind of water purifying system before it goes into the Harbor. It goes straight into the Harbor with its pollutants, trash and debris. 

Continue reading ‘Snow or rain, it all flows downstream’

Honoring the Aquarium’s ‘hero’

Yesterday, the City of Baltimore honored its most beloved mayor and former Maryland governor, William Donald Schaefer with the unveiling of a statue to memorialize his distinguished political career in Maryland. The statue lives in the middle of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, which is fitting since Schaefer’s most notable accomplishment was the transformation of the Inner Harbor from an industrial shipping area to a multi-million dollar tourist attraction and the gem of Baltimore.

The National Aquarium was one of the first additions to the Inner Harbor. In the mid-1970s Mayor Schaefer conceived and championed the idea of an aquarium as a vital component of the redevelopment. William Donald Schaefer is truly the Aquarium’s hero because if wasn’t for him, the National Aquarium may not exist today. Dozens of staff members and volunteers, as well as the Aquarium’s first board president, Frank Gunther, attended the ceremony yesterday to pay tribute to the man who brought our Aquarium to life.

Schaefer’s idea for an aquarium may have been his best idea for the City of Baltimore. In 1976, residents supported the Aquarium by voting for it on a bond referendum, and the groundbreaking for the facility took place August 8, 1978.  The Aquarium’s world-class status was recognized by the United States Congress, which granted the facility national status. The National Aquarium in Baltimore opened to the public exactly three years later on August 8, 1981. Today the Aquarium is huge economic driver for the city and is the most visited destination at the Inner Harbor.

Schaefer is also known for his hilarious dip in the Aquarium’s seal pool, which has turned out to be his most famous photo op! The mayor  lost a bet with a developer who said the National Aquarium would not open on schedule. When the initial date passed, the mayor put on his bathing garb, grabbed a Donald Duck squeaky, and jumped into the seal pool that used to be outside of the Aquarium. The pictures live on in Aquarium history. Many see Schaefer as he is represented in the beautiful new statue, but at the Aquarium, this how we like to remember our hero:

Classic Mayor Schaefer blog


Sign up for AquaMail

Twitter Updates


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 239 other followers