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Maryland's ghost fleet gets a special designation

Under the designation, the fleet and surrounding park get access to more tools and infrastructure help...
ghost fleet.jpg
Posted at 11:06 AM, Sep 27, 2023

MARYLAND — The waterways of Maryland are no stranger to many in the state but one area in southern Maryland received a special designation a few years ago to protect a not so fleeting group of ships.

Tucked away in Charles County is one of the more recently designated Marine Sanctuaries in the United States.

Mallows Bay-Potomac River Marine Sanctuary is located in right along the Potomac River in southern Charles County and is a part of Mallows Bay Park. It hosts tons of activities that range from hiking to kayaking around the ghost fleet.

The park also has a ton of history to be found as operations manager, Elena Gilroy, explains.

“Mallows Bay Park has about two miles of trails here and throughout the trails, you can find signage interpreting flora and fauna. We also focus a lot on the Piscataway people, who inhabited this land long before the ships were here.”

As part of the effort to highlight the Piscataway people, signs will have Algonquin words for a variety of things that the tribe would also encounter.

But the main reason why they made this location a marine sanctuary was for the ghost fleet that sits in the bay due to their historical and ecological importance for the surrounding wildlife.

“Since the ships were wooden the dirt and debris and silt has deposited on them over time and they have really grown into thriving ecosystems. They have seen everything from otters and beavers on the ships to the herons and the egrets and the bald eagles,” says Gilroy.

Exemplifying just how important it is to keep Mallows Bay safe and pristine.

The sanctuary is co-managed by Charles County, the state of Maryland, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which gives them to access additional funding that would help the park.

“One of the things we just got funding from NOAA for is to work on our visitor centers,” says Gilroy.

Allowing the park to accommodate and handle more visitors as it grows with the new designation.

East Carolina University has a vested interest in Mallows Bay as well, as it is conducting studies on the ghost fleet through its decaying process and how it looks at each step of decay through aerial imagery.

For more information on its marine sanctuary status, click here.

For information on the county park side, click here.

*Correction: The park is run by Charles County and is not a state park as said in the video story. The web article has been changed to reflect the correct name and web link.*