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High-Tech Pontoon Raft Deployed to Produce Virtual Tour of Mallows Bay

Update Sept. 28

Due to the chance of inclement weather tomorrow, this event has been rescheduled for Tuesday, October 6. Members of the media are invited to visit the pontoon and crew (beginning at approximately 8:20 a.m., low tide, on Tuesday, October 6).  Contact Jody Couser to make arrangements.


Nanjemoy, Md. – The Chesapeake Conservancy, based in Annapolis, Md., will deploy a one-of-a-kind, handmade boat equipped with six cameras to capture images along Mallows Bay, home to the “Ghost Fleet,” the largest collection of historic shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere.  Richmond, Va.-based Terrain360 built the custom craft and is making the voyage along the shores of Mallows Bay, on the Potomac River in Charles County.

The Chesapeake Conservancy is a core partner along with Charles County and other organizations on the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary Nomination, submitted by the State of Maryland in September 2014. The nomination is currently under review by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Such a designation would protect this marine landscape for generations to come.

High-resolution, 360-degree images will be taken every 50 feet by six cameras mounted on the vessel 10 feet above the water’s surface.  These images will be stitched together to create a digital image map of Mallows Bay, and eventually the entire Potomac River, accessible by anyone with an Internet connection.  The virtual tour will be available to the public later this year on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s web site at www.chesapeakeconservancy.org

“Mallows Bay has the largest collection of historic shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere and they are full of wildlife!  What makes it even cooler is that you can kayak around and view the shipwrecks at low tide,” Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn said. “Just 30 miles south of Washington, DC, Mallows Bay- Potomac River is an important cultural resource attraction for adventure tourism. We’re very excited to produce this virtual tour, enabling our community to explore the proposed National Marine Sanctuary on their phones and computers.  We hope it inspires people to help us establish the Sanctuary and get outside and explore the Chesapeake.”

“It’s an honor to be part of this project,” said Terrain360’s Andy Thompson.  “Mallows Bay is such a special place in our nation’s history and a beautiful place to visit.  We’re so proud to be part of this effort to help make it virtually accessible to everyone.”

The “Ghost Fleet” of Mallows Bay includes more than 100 wooden steamships built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet during World War I, as well as many other wrecks from Revolutionary times through the 1900s. These wrecks support diverse ecosystems that are teeming with marine life, attracting recreational fishing and ecotourists to the area.

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