The North and South Green Bulkhead locations are both sites owned by the Town of Ocean City. Both sites are in Ocean City, Maryland. The North Green Bulkhead site is off Old Landing Road the South Green Bulkhead site is off Bayshore Drive. Before these green bulkheads were installed, there was a bare bulkhead in place to protect the surrounding developed land from flooding and erosion. Ocean City is a highly developed city surrounded by water. Most of the city is protected from erosion and flooding through man-made hardened shorelines like bulkheads. The issue with hardened man-made structures like bulkheads is they remove the naturally occurring shoreline or marsh that would otherwise be present. Natural shorelines provide habitat to native flora and fauna species present, while hardened shoreline structures like bulkheads provide no habitat.
The Green Bulkhead projects, also known as Peruvian flutes, were designed by renowned seagrass researcher Dr. Evamaria Koch in 2013 and implemented through a collaborative effort with University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, and the Town of Ocean City, Maryland. Engineered with nature in mind, the goal of the project was to improve habitat and productivity by creating a living seawall on otherwise sterile bulkheads and to counteract the effects of extensive bulkheading in the Ocean City area. This monitoring project aimed to assess the effectiveness of the Green Bulkheads by determining any impacts on biodiversity and water quality in comparison to adjacent control bare bulkhead sites over an eight-week sampling period during summer 2017. Water quality was measured numerous times over the eight-week period using a YSI Pro 2030. Plant and animal diversity were analyzed through numerous seine net samples.
The results from the data collected showed an increase in species diversity at both green bulkhead locations compared to the controlled, bare bulkheads. Although it was too difficult to determine whether water quality had improved due to the green bulkheads, an increase in vegetation and filter-feeding species such as barnacles and mussels should slightly improve the surrounding water quality. Natural recruitment of species such as mussels, oysters, marsh grasses, and other plant species has occurred at the green bulkhead sites. In addition to this, species such as blue crabs, oyster toadfish, and other fish species have been observed inhabiting the green bulkheads and surrounding area. These green bulkheads are an inexpensive way for the community to create habitat from an otherwise inhabitable hardened shoreline. They are also more aesthetically pleasing to look at than the bare bulkheads.
Thank you to our partners for assisting the Maryland Coastal Bays Program with this restoration project!