National Aquarium Project Attempts To Restore Inner Harbor’s Image

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Photo credit: John Domen / All News 99.1

Photo credit: John Domen / All News 99.1

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BALTIMORE (WNEW) — Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is far more alive than most people give it credit for.

“There’s definitely life here,” says Charmaine Dahlenburg, a project manager with the National Aquarium, “whether you think think there is or not.”

It’s there for anyone to see, too. In June the aquarium started dropping biohuts — or rectangular, wire cages filled with oyster shells — into the water. The openings are small enough for marine critters to get inside, creating a habitat that hearkens back to a time when the harbor was chock full of oysters. Inside the biohuts, they can grow while keeping safely away from predators.

“The waters here are able to keep our native fish happy, we need to provide more habitat for them so we get bigger and stronger fish,” says Dahlenburg.

RELATED: Meet The Machine That Removed 50 Tons of Trash From The Inner Harbor In a Month

To do that, and to record the progress, the aquarium scientists got creative. The biohuts are submerged right along the piers next to the harbor, and once a month or so scientists will pull up a pair and examine what’s inside. The most recent examination turned up dozens of mud crabs, worms, and tiny shrimp. Several fish, including white perch and naked gobies were also found swimming inside. Earlier in the summer they even found an 11-inch American eel.

“We’re keeping a tally of everything we’ve observed,” Dahlenburg says. “So, so far we’re up to about 19 species and hundreds of fish and shrimp and crabs that we’re finding in here.”

Shell fish like oysters and mussels are also being drawn to the biohuts, and that’s a good thing since they’ll help filter the water in the harbor.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is the harbor is full, full of life,” Dahlenburg says. “And it’s not as polluted as people think.”

WNEW’s John Domen contributed to this report. Follow him and WNEW on Twitter.

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