Dr. Kelton Clark, Director of the Estuarine Research Center, located at Jefferson Patterson Park, gave a presentation on the current research programs to the Calvert Board of County Commissioners at their Tuesday, June 11, 2013 meeting. Orginally the Estuarine Center was established by The Academy of Natural Sciences in Benedict in 1967, and then moved to Jefferson Patterson Park in 1994 and finally in 2004, it was deeded to Morgan State University in Baltimore.
The Estuarine Research Center is located near the Patuxent River (part of Chesapeake Bay watershed) in Saint Leonard. Research conducted at the state-of-the art facility is designed to increase the understanding of coastal ecosystems so that they may be properly managed and protected. Much of the work is focused on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, such as the Patuxent River.
The Estuarine Research Center maintains excellent facilities that include:
• A 22,000 square foot laboratory and office building
• Fleet of research vessels including the 42-foot R/V Leidy
• Outdoor and indoor facilities with flow-through ambient water
• Scuba support and dive locker
• Teaching laboratory, conference room and library
• Range of research laboratories, including isotope, constant temperature and image analysis labs
Research is being conducted on the harmful algal blooms (natural or human origin) in Lake Lariat in the Chesapeake Ranch Estates and radio nucleotides (nucleotides that have a radioactive substance attached to them) at Calvert Cliffs Power Plant. The Center is also monitoring blue crabs, oysters and plankton.
The Research Lab is also focusing on Education with Chespax (environmental education of Chesapeake Bay and Patuxent River) and PLANs, with teachers’ professional development in Calvert County Public Schools. In the 9th grade curriculum, students need to think about their environment. The Center promotes the Science Fair and holds an internship program at Jefferson Patterson Park and although there are students from around the world, at least one must be from Calvert County.
The Estuarine Center is also focused on economic development. They work with the Calvert County Watermen’s Association and the Southern Maryland Shellfish Growers Association, who meet monthly at the lab. They are involved in an environment entrepreneurship with oyster aquaculture and building oyster habitats.
Dr. Clark told the Board of Commissioners that he would like to give annual updates on the work at the lab, so the citizens can learn what is taking place there. This was welcomed by the board.