We partner with communities to restore essential habitat, support ecosystem health through research, and document impacts of climate change.
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. Its watershed is home to more than 18 million people and 2,700 species of animals, all of which depend on a healthy bay for survival. National Aquarium staff, volunteers and partners have restored thousands of acres throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed—removing debris and planting native trees, gardens and wetland grasses in Baltimore City and beyond to provide habitat for wildlife and promote coastal resiliency.
Since 1999, we have partnered with the National Park Service to restore habitat for wildlife, remove debris and maintain trails at the wetland at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in south Baltimore, the birthplace of the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” This work has created a valuable green space in the heart of Baltimore City used by hundreds of species of birds, reptiles and aquatic species.
Masonville Cove on the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River in South Baltimore is an important habitat and resting stop for wildlife—especially migratory birds—in the mid-Atlantic region and the first certified Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership in the U.S. Since 2009, the National Aquarium has collaborated with neighbors from Baltimore’s Brooklyn and Curtis Bay communities as well as the Maryland Port Administration, Maryland Environmental Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Living Classrooms Foundation at Masonville Cove by holding workshops and debris cleanups, planting pollinator gardens and hosting community science events.
The Aquarium partners with The Nature Conservancy to restore vulnerable Atlantic white cedar habitat in the Nassawango Creek Preserve on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The 15-square-mile preserve comprises wetland and upland habitat and is home to 60 species of migratory birds and several rare plant species. The Aquarium, which has been part of the project since 2009, engages local volunteers and students to plant and care for Atlantic white cedars.
The National Aquarium restores sand dunes at the Naval Air Station Oceana-Dam Neck Annex at Virginia Beach in partnership with the Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic and the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Sand dunes act as natural barriers, protecting land by preventing erosion and absorbing wave energy. Without this protection, soft coastline would rapidly disappear. Volunteers help plant native dune grasses and restore habitat for local wildlife while protecting the shoreline.
In addition to the number of community cleanups we host throughout each year, the National Aquarium has hosted International Coastal Cleanup events since 1999, and has served as the coordinator for all ICC events in the state of Maryland since 2016. In Maryland, you can get involved in the ICC by joining a National Aquarium event, taking part in another organization's event or organizing your own! Check the event map to find an existing event, or use Ocean Conservancy's cleanup toolkit to host your own cleanup.
The data collected at these cleanup events is compiled in Ocean Conservancy's Ocean Trash Index, which the world's largest item-by-item, location-by-location database of trash found in near-shore environments. The database is used by scientists, conservation groups, governments and industry leaders to take actions that prevent debris from entering our waterways.
In partnership with the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program, the National Aquarium helps increase habitat for wildlife, protect pollinator populations and support clean water—and you can help by creating a wildlife habitat! You can invite wildlife to your yard, school, place of worship or neighborhood by planting a simple garden that provides five key elements: food, water, cover, places to raise young and sustainable practices.