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
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
(ph. 410-326-6000) and Woodburn's Gourmet Supermarket
Tell them SailNorthEast.Com sent you!
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