Baltimore Plans 'Floating Wetlands' to Revitalize Inner Harbor

The National Aquarium wants to recreate the tidal marshes that once lined the city's waterfront.

1 minute read

September 17, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Inner Harbor, Baltimore

Cimm / Flickr

Baltimore's Inner Harbor "was once lined with tidal salt marshes, only a few feet deep and teeming with aquatic life," writes Elizabeth Shwe. But as the city industrialized, those marshes were dredged to make room for deepwater shipping ports. "Now the National Aquarium is trying to recreate those rich tidal marshes of yore by building an oasis of floating wetlands at the aquarium’s campus off Pratt Street."

"Floating wetlands can bring natural habitats back to the harbor, such as a nursery for hatching fish and a safe shallow place for blue crabs to shed their shells," as well as improve water quality and provide educational opportunities for local residents. Jack Cover, general curator of living exhibits at the National Aquarium, "has been maintaining a 400-square-foot floating wetland prototype for four years, testing the durability of materials in the Harbor and gathering information on what animals will inhabit this habitat to prepare for the aquarium’s larger project." He says "[f]loating wetlands are also examples of how low-tech green infrastructure can be added to a waterfront city to help clean air and water."

Cover hopes "[l]earning more about the harbor could motivate people to make small changes in their lives such as planting more trees to expand green infrastructure or advocating for better environmental legislation."

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