More than a hundred sunken skeletons rest in the solitude of the Mallows Bay-Potomac River, ghosts of World War I. They were built to provide naval support in the fight against German forces.
Deeper down, the wreckage of Civil War-era vessels settle in the mud, and below them the 12,000-year-old Native American relics that mark the first human imprint on the region.
Today, they’re home to fish, beavers, osprey, and seaweed.`
As reported in National Geographic, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has designated the 18-square-mile area a national marine sanctuary.
Mallows Bay is a popular tourist site. Visitors swim and kayak among the aging graveyard of Woodrow Wilson’s U.S. Emergency Fleet Corporation. The ships were intended to take on the German U-boats that were torpedoing passenger and cargo ships in the Atlantic Ocean in the early 20th century. Engineering on the ships fell short, however, and they never made it far from the states.
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Public officials floated the idea of declaring the bay a national marine sanctuary in 2014. Caught between conservationists and commercial fishermen who make a living along the Potomac, the measure was never decided upon. Now it seems NOAA may designate its first National Marine Sanctuary since 2000, when it took a break from declaring lands protected to determine if it could maintain the current network.
Congress is allowed a 45-day window after NOAA declared the Mallows Bay-Potomac River area a National Marine Sanctuary, to hold hearings on the decision. After the period, the designation becomes official.
Learn more in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.