Harbor Happenings: New Floating Wetland

We installed a new floating wetland prototype within our Waterfront Campus last week!

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Our design and conservation teams worked collaboratively with outside companies to make the vision for our new floating wetland come to life. Natural tidal salt marsh habitat comprises a mosaic of microhabitats, and this new prototype brings several microhabitats back to the deep waters of the Inner Harbor.

The new floating wetland prototype will test design and materials to inform the design and construction of a much larger tidal salt marsh habitat, a key feature of our future Waterfront Campus. The floating wetland was delivered on a pontoon to a marine service center in Port Covington, where the custom-designed fabricated planting habitat was fitted to structural support. From there, it was launched into the water and towed by boat to our pier in the Inner Harbor.

Towboat Tows Floating Wetland Prototype Through Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Upon the prototype's arrival, our conservation team got to work planting 1,441 native plants within the wetland's structure. The wetland prototype was secured to the steel pilings along the side of our pier, which allows the wetland to ride up and down with the tides. This is crucial for the plants on the wetland to thrive as the water in the water column will remain at the optimal height for the plants' continued growth. Within two days after installation, small schools of killifish moved into the wetland's shallow central channel. On the third day, a blue crab arrived to safely molt and harden in the protected shallow water of the new marsh habitat.

National Aquarium Staff Adding Plants to Floating Wetland Prototype

The installation of this wetland is the next step in our Waterfront Campus project. After years of success with our other floating wetlands, we want to infuse even more nature into our urban environment, while also helping to improve the Inner Harbor's water quality.

In addition to reintroducing wetland habitats for native species, these green spaces will provide local students with a living classroom through programs and initiatives, such as Living Laboratory: What Lives in Your Harbor. This program, made possible thanks to a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will allow middle schoolers to help with citizen science projects, learn about the Inner Harbor's environmental health and better understand the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Thank you to all our corporate and philanthropic partners that are supporting the early stages of this transformative project. Stay tuned for more updates about our floating wetlands!

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