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PO Box 97
14200 Solomons Island Road
Solomons, MD 20688
P: 410-326-2042
F: 410-326-6691

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Estuarine Biology

River to Bay: Reflections and Connections

This exhibit tells the story of an interconnected and interdependent world. It opens with the geo-animation, found in the Paleontology Gallery, showing the formation of the modern Chesapeake Bay – but this time overlays human population since the time of the Paleo Indians. In the gallery you will meet a remarkable variety of animal life found in various habitats. Notice the “waterline mural” overhead that shows the human activities going on above the surface. This is an exhibit that does not share all its secrets at once. You will want to return again and again.

What’s in the Gallery

The exhibit is made up of three habitat zones, followed by sections on adaptations and invasive species. In the Deep Open Water habitat, you will encounter the chain dogfish, a small shark sometimes found living near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and many sought-after sport fish congregating around the massive manmade bridge columns.

Nearby in the Sheltering Shallows habitat, an oyster reef provides shelter to blennies, gobies, shrimp. Seahorses wind their tails around bottom grasses as butterflyfish hunt for small prey hiding among the life clinging to an abandoned pier piling. Marsh grasses obscure the movement of northern water snakes and diamondback terrapins. In this area you will also meet former Senator Bernie Fowler, famous for his annual wade-in. Take time to explore the computer monitor and learn about his legacy of bay stewardship.

The third habitat, Tidal Tributaries, brings you closer to the diverse world of freshwater animals found in the streams and rivers discharging into the bay. Tessellated darters scurry across the bottom while schools of shiner and dace swim overhead, and freshwater turtles lounge on floating logs. Smallmouth bass, bluegill sunfish, black crappie, white catfish, and chain pickerel hungrily eye the minnows in the adjacent tank as they lurk in tall pondweeds.

Strategies to Survive shows some of the surprising ways various species have adapted to survive in the bay including the use of camouflage; schooling; or using intelligence to figure out what and where to eat. Don’t overlook the jellyfish tank in this exhibit. These mystical drifters have their own unique adaptations. In this area you will also find interactive computer games designed for our younger visitors.

The Eco-Invaders section focuses on invasive species. There is a new circular tank in housing the beautiful but highly invasive lionfish. The northern snakehead can be found skulking in the bottom of its tank. Green crabs and other locally undesirable invasive species are also highlighted.

In several areas you may find special “Maker Space Carts” that invite you to play a game, make a Secchi disk, or learn more about some of the animals in the Chesapeake Bay.

Behind the Scenes

Take a look at what goes on in the inner-workings of the Calvert Marine Museum's Estuarine Biology Department.

Estuary Quick Links


River Otters River Otters

Eco Invaders Eco Invaders

Gallery Guide Gallery Guide 

Behind the Scenes Behind the Scenes