Building the Aquarium's Newest Exhibit

The National Aquarium Harbor Wetland presented by CFG Bank is the Aquarium's newest exhibit inviting visitors to walk on a large-scale floating wetland in the Inner Harbor.

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The National Aquarium Harbor Wetland presented by CFG Bank will bring visitors onto a large-scale floating wetland in the Inner Harbor. This exhibit will mimic the natural salt marsh habitat that used to be found in Baltimore City. By attracting native species, this floating wetland will serve as an educational hub, inviting visitors onto the water for an up-close view of wildlife in the Inner Harbor. Depending on the season, guests can expect to see blue crabs, small fishes in the shallow channel, great blue herons and more.

Constructing Harbor Wetland was no easy feat. Supported by the philanthropic community—led by CFG Bank along with Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, Constellation, the Bunting Family Philanthropies and many more generous partners—the exhibit was built in small rafts that were floated into the Inner Harbor in pieces and connected. One of the innovative features of the floating wetland is a pontoon ballast system. Just as some barges can flood their pontoons to descend farther into the water column to get under low bridges, we can control the amount of air in our pontoons to adjust buoyancy and raise the floating wetland after plant growth and biofouling add extra weight. The wetland also has aerators that keep the water moving and add oxygen, promoting healthy water and preventing algal and bacterial blooms that thrive in stagnant water.

Thousands of plants on the wetland provide habitat for wildlife. These grasses and shrubs are planted into a porous material that allows water to seep through without adding much extra weight. It also lets the plants' roots draw excess nitrogen directly from the water, promoting water health.

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