A North American River Otter (Lutra canadensis) views the exhibits presented to her,
through the safety of a pane of glass...

The Calvert Museum's Aquariums

      Last fall when SailNorthEast visited the Calvert Museum in Solomons, MD, we were impressed with the museum's displays of the ecological interface between land and water. So this spring, on our way back north, we decided to visit again and talk to the aquarists there about their work and these unique displays. We were fortunate enough to be able to speak with Carin Stringer, who is the resident seahorse champion, and with Paula Bohaska who is responsible for applying the most sophisticated psychological management techniques to the playful and unruly otter population.

      The museum currently employs 3 full time aquarists as well as a department director. Ralph Eschelmann, the original director of the Calvert Marine Museum, and Ken Kaumeyer, the original curator of estuarine biology, came up with the idea of having the aquaria contain both above water marshland and underwater marine life.

      Carin and Paula explained that this is a very challenging concept because of the different requirements for plants and wildlife above and below water. One major challenge results from the bright lights required to successfully grow marsh plants and the lower light level required to discourage algae growth in the submarine portions of the exhibits. This requires the displays to be modified a bit from what would be included in a real habitat.

      Neither Carin nor Paula made mention of this particular problem, but it occurred to me that a great many of the animals one might want to include in this sort of display would tend to eat one another... Obviously some compromises are required.

      The Calvert Museum in Solomons, Maryland, is perhaps best known for its famous screw-pile lighthouse, fossil exhibits and maritime collection but I was most impressed with its aquariums with their focus on the interface between land and water and inclusion of representative flora and fauna from both environments.

If you visit by boat:

The Calvert Museum provides a dinghy dock for patrons who arrive by water and very nearby is Patuxent Plaza, a shopping center with a West Marine (ph. 410-326-6000) and Woodburn's Gourmet Supermarket (ph. 410-326-3999)!

Tell them SailNorthEast.Com sent you!


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