Floating wetland islands offer a way for shorelines that have been converted to hardened structures to regain some of the ecosystem benefits typically provided by natural tidal wetlands. These benefits can include improving water quality and clarity, removing excess nutrients from the water, reducing the incidence or severity of low dissolved oxygen events, and providing habitat for a variety of beneficial plants and animals.
Baltimore's Inner Harbor offers an ideal place to use these islands, as the entire shoreline has been converted to manmade structures, with very limited opportunities to restore a natural shoreline.
In August 2010, the National Aquarium assembled, planted, and launched a floating wetland island in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Since then, the Aquarium has monitored the island's plant species and animal colonization, and has worked with the University of Maryland's Maryland Sea Grant program to perform nutrient uptake experiments.
Overall, the island appears to be capable of supporting a lush and diverse community of wetland plants. The island is also colonized by a large and complex assemblage of estuarine organisms, including many filter-feeding species, with a source for fish and crabs.
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