The National Aquarium is committed to supporting projects that encourage education and animal diversity through habitat mimicry, including the biohut project. A biohut is a double-cage system—one half of the cage is filled with discarded restaurant oyster shells, and the other half is empty. The shells act as habitat for animals to hide, forage for food or lay eggs, and the empty side acts as a predator-free zone for juvenile fish populations.
Since the initial launch of this program in 2014, the Aquarium has documented 17 different species utilizing the 14 biohuts along our pier. Last year, 2,226 aquatic animals of seven different species were observed as a result of 10 inventories!
Last week’s inventory was the first of 2017. We were joined by students from Wide Angle Youth Media, who assisted staff in counting animals from two biohuts. In total, 17 mud crabs, 21 common grass shrimp, and two American eels were observed. The Aquarium will continue to perform biohut inventories through December.
Using the information gathered from these inventories, our team works with new water monitoring technology to monitor the harbor’s health. This equipment—called sondes—records core parameters every fifteen minutes around the clock. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources makes this data available to the public through the Eyes on the Bay program. With this data, our team can now link the quality of the harbor to what types of animals we see in the biohuts, and compare data from 2016.
Stay tuned for more updates from our biohut project, and check out our conservation events to see when the next biohut inventory will occur!