The Barcoding the Harbor Project

What are we doing, and why?

Let’s face it: the Inner Harbor has seen better days. No one, including mussels, fish, blue crabs, and people, likes the sights of the “fragrant” waters.

Understanding what calls the Inner Harbor home is an important step in making the Harbor a better place for everybody. We can get a deeper sense of the Inner Harbor’s health over time by sampling and analyzing it at regular intervals. We do this by placing biodisks in the water and sampling what is living on them every month.

Then, we use the microscope and advanced DNA analysis to identify what organisms are present. We can use this data to find ways to affect positive changes on the Harbor and use this natural resource in sustainable ways.

scientist analzing biology samples with microscope and monitor
group of scientists piping smaples into test tubes around a table

We want to know if the community of aquatic animals varies in locations with different watersheds and shorelines, such as areas of suburban runoff, industrial legacy pollutants, or restoration activities. The project is therefore expanding and sampling 6 sites around the Chesapeake Bay.

map of sampling area for biolofgical components
Sampling sites are denoted by red markers

What is Barcoding?

Simply that when we read the DNA of an organism, we can use that DNA code to identify the organism, similar to the way that store scanner can read the barcode of an item and use that code to identify the item.