How Our Floating Wetlands Work

Last month, we installed a new floating wetland prototype as part of our Waterfront Campus. Learn how these wetlands are transforming Baltimore's Inner Harbor!

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Floating wetlands are artificial islands that host meticulously planned ecosystems and are designed to attract native species while helping to improve water quality.

Each island consists of a porous base that offers growing surfaces for beneficial microbes. In August, National Aquarium staff and volunteers planted native grasses into the floating wetland prototype, allowing the pollutant-absorbing roots of native aquatic plans to reach the water below. These grasses, which are planted at tiered heights, mimic a natural wetland's microhabitats and support many different species.

Rendering of Floating Wetland

The Inner Harbor was once home to various native plants and grasses that supported marine life—including oysters, blue crabs and rockfish. They also hosted aquatic birds and reptiles, such as Maryland's diamondback terrapins. The floating wetlands in our Waterfront Campus will create a home for oysters, grass shrimp, American eels, blue crabs, turtles, night herons, mummichogs, rockfish and other species to thrive. The floating wetlands will work to improve urban water quality, restore the harbor's complex food web and support abundant life above and below the water's surface.

Another important function of our floating wetlands is the opportunity for our community to get up close and personal with these ecosystems. These wetlands will provide a space for Baltimore-area students and citizens to get hands-on experience exploring and learning about the many plants and animals that will thrive because of our floating wetlands.

This new green space, just steps away from the Aquarium, will offer a chance to learn more about the Inner Harbor's environmental health and better understand Chesapeake Bay waterways.

Learn more about our plans to restore Baltimore's Inner Harbor and how you can help. Stay tuned for more updates about our new floating wetlands!

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