Posts Tagged 'patapsco river'

A Day at the Fort McHenry Wetland

Every spring and fall, the National Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) recruits volunteers to restore habitat for wildlife, remove debris, and maintain trails at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore.

Recently, ACT! hosted a group of Patterson High School students and their mentors as a part of Legg Mason’s Workplace Mentoring Program. At the Fort McHenry wetland, they participated in a variety of environmental education activities and a debris cleanup over the course of the day.

The students’ excitement couldn’t be damped by the light rain as they seined for fish along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River and caught a wide variety of critters including a blue crab, marsh crabs, Atlantic silversides, a northern pipefish, comb jellies, and grass shrimp.

A student sorts through the seine to find fish.
Photo by Shan Gordon, Waterfront Partnership Baltimore

On their nature walk in the 7-acre wetland, they encountered all sorts of wildlife that call the wetland home: an osprey, a snapping turtle, a box turtle, a pileated woodpecker, a common loon, and many more birds!

The students and their mentors also helped the National Aquarium team weed and plant a butterfly garden with native perennials like goldenrod, milkweed, mountain mint, and joe pye weed.

The students and their mentors cleaned up the wetland
Photo by Shan Gordon, Waterfront Partnership Baltimore

Since the National Aquarium took over stewardship of this marsh in 1999, volunteers have helped collect nearly 600,000 pieces of debris! Click here to learn more about the National Aquarium Fort McHenry conservation initiative.

Reviving wilderness in Baltimore Harbor

The National Aquarium’s Conservation Team has been busy in Baltimore City this fall! The last week in September, we planted 2,100 shrubs at the site of a new wetland along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River in Baltimore Harbor. This was the first planting in the creation of the Masonville Cove wetland, which began with the saltbush community. Three different species of salt-tolerant shrubs were planted: hightide bush, groundsel tree, and wax myrtle.

Volunteers planting at Masonville Cove

Volunteers hard at work

We couldn’t have planted all those shrubs without the help of our fantastic volunteers! A total of nearly 90 students from Curtis Bay Elementary and Middle School, Maree G. Farring Elementary/Middle School, and Benjamin Franklin High School assisted us throughout the week.

Community volunteers also showed up in force, as well—close to 50 people turned out! We even had a group of kayakers with the Canton Kayak Club brave the blustery, winter-like conditions we had one day and paddle out to the wetland.

This project is a part of the revitalization that is taking place in the Masonville Cove area as a result of Maryland Port Administration’s (MPA) new Dredge Material Containment Facility at the Masonville Marine Terminal. It will hold material dredged from the shipping channels of Baltimore Harbor.

In addition to the creation of the wetland, a bird sanctuary, hiking trails, and a fishing pier will be built as a part of the mitigation efforts by MPA. Also, the Masonville Cove Environmental Education Center was constructed to serve local students and connect them with their natural environment.

The wetland restoration at Masonville Cove is important for wildlife because it provides habitat, which is very rare in an urban area. At the nearby Fort McHenry wetland, more than 200 bird species have been counted.

Shrubs planted at Masonville Cove

After the shrubs were planted

Restoring the harbor’s surrounding land, like Masonville Cove, back to a natural state will increase the amount of habitat for not only the birds, but also the terrestrial and aquatic life found along the Patapsco River.

With the help of community members and students, we will continue to restore this area to a thriving wetland ecosystem. Work at this site will continue with a wetland grass planting in the springtime, so we hope to see you there!

Sign up to receive the quarterly Conservation News e-mail to be alerted to upcoming conservation events and volunteer opportunities.

A manatee in Maryland

Last week, the Aquarium’s Marine Animal Rescue team was surprised by reports of a manatee spotted in the upper Patapsco River very near Baltimore. Since then, additional reports of a manatee sighting have been made. Aquarium staff are working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor sightings and the condition of the manatee.

It might sound impossible, but the Aquarium has documented manatee sightings in Maryland for the last 10 years. 

Earlier this summer, we documented several manatee sightings in the upper Patapsco River, with the last (until now) confirmed sighting in August (as seen in the photo, courtesy of Ryan Neal).

Manatees typically travel up the East Coast from Florida in the warm summer months – July through September. Maryland’s water temperatures in the summer months are warm enough for the manatees, and the Chesapeake Bay has an abundance of submerged sea grasses that manatees eat as their main source of food.

However, as the water temperatures being to drop in our area, the manatees should instinctively begin to head south again – back to warmer waters. Current water temperatures around the area are holding around 66-67 degrees during the day, but more shallow areas are dipping down into the lower 60s at night. Manatees need to be in temperatures of at least 68 degrees to survive, which is why we are paying very close attention to these sightings.

Last year, a manatee that traveled through Maryland in the summer ended up getting stuck in the cold waters of New Jersey in October. Eventually, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinated an effort to rescue and transport the manatee to the Miami Seaquarium in Florida. The Miami Seaquarium rehabilitated the manatee and then released him back into the warm waters off the Miami coast.

For now, the National Aquarium is monitoring the area by land, air and sea to determine location and health of this manatee. You can help by reporting any sightings to the stranding hotline at 410-373-0083, or by submitting recent photos of the manatee to marp@aqua.org.


Sign up for AquaMail

Twitter Updates


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 236 other followers