Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Calvert Marine Museum

October 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 


Want to touch a dogfish shark, see an octopus or jellyfish up close, and enjoy watching an otter at play? You can do all of that at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons in Calvert County, Maryland.

Solomons is a small island at the mouth of the Patuxent River, where almost everything is accessible to boaters. The museum has docking, but it is often full with its own boats (call 410-326-2042 to inquire). The closest transient space to the museum is Beacon Marina; Calvert and Spring Cove marinas are also nearby. You can also anchor in Back Creek and use a dinghy.

The museum, part of a nine-acre complex, recently completed an extensive renovation. Its exhibits appeal to all ages, using major themes of regional paleontology, estuarine biology of the river and bay, and local maritime history.

The paleontology gallery displays a vast collection of marine fossils of the Miocene epoch, which occurred between 24.6 to 5.1 million years ago. The fossils were recovered from the cliffs along the bay and river. Visitors can view the gaping mouth of a great white shark skeletal reproduction and peek into the fossil lab to see workers preparing specimens.

A hands-on discovery room encourages children to search for fossil shark teeth, learn how to hoist a sail or tie a knot, and examine various fossils. A water-filled touch tank has such creatures as small sharks, horseshoe crabs, and diamondback terrapins.

The newly renovated estuarine biology gallery has lit aquariums where you can see some of the habitats and creatures of the bay. Though jellyfish are a pain — literally — when you encounter them in the water, they are beautiful to watch through the glass! You can also gaze upon seahorses, various fish, and some invasive species.

An octopus is the museum’s newest attraction. Visitors enjoy seeing its personality and awareness, especially as it changes color and texture. A lively otter delights visitors in a glass-enclosed environment.

Maritime heritage exhibits focus on the area’s role in the War of 1812 and World War II, shipbuilding and the industrial age, the golden age of powerboat racing, and the rise of recreational boating.

Outside the museum, you can tour the 1883 Drum Point Lighthouse, a restored, cottage-style, screwpile lighthouse, take a marsh walk, visit a boat shed with a small craft collection, and watch boats being restored in the Patuxent Small Craft Guild Building. You can book a cruise aboard two historic bay work boats — the museum’s nine-log sailing bugeye Wm. B. Tennison has a regular schedule of public cruises between May and October, and public sails are offered periodically during the summer aboard the skipjack Dee of St. Mary’s.

The museum hosts special events throughout the year, including a popular summer concert series. It also maintains the historic J.C. Lore & Sons Oyster House and the Cove Point Lighthouse Visitor’s Center — both open from May to September. The property also has picnic facilities. Several restaurants are within walking distance, and boutiques, a riverwalk along the Patuxent, and the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center are nearby.

The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

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By Gwen Woolf

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