Mallows Bay-Potomac River
National Marine Sanctuary

Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary protects and interprets the remnants of more than 100 World War I-era wooden steamships – known as the "Ghost Fleet." The best way to see this national treasure is by kayak but check out today's new Sanctuaries 360 video and explore the Ghost Fleet without ever getting your feet wet!


A kayaker next to a shipwreck
Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA

Whether you are walking the shore or paddling through history, the Ghost Fleet is your gateway to recreation and educational opportunities.

Maritime and Cultural Heritage

A native american in a traditional headdress
Please contact the Piscataway Tribal Council to request authorization prior to using or reproducing this image. Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA

Beyond the Ghost Fleet, the area’s history includes connections to the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. In addition, it has a rich heritage of commercial fishing, the military, the Piscataway Indian Nation and the Piscataway Conoy Tribe of Maryland, as well as the Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia. Its significance is recognized by the national Register of Historic Places and it is listed as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is a part of the Southern Maryland National Heritage Area.

Get Involved: A Partnership with Community

A group of people pose for a photo holding commemorative paddles
Photo: Kate Thompson /NOAA

Community partnership is a hallmark of every national marine sanctuary. Communities actively participate to inform and evolve sanctuary management objectives and to enable partnerships that benefit sanctuary resources and the community itself. Volunteer networks, citizen science, and advisory councils are among the opportunities available to learn and share information about the sanctuary and promote stewardship of its resources.

Volunteers Make a Difference

All national marine sanctuaries rely on the energy and passion of volunteers. Force Blue is a volunteer organization that unites two worlds by helping veterans and helping the environment. A team from Force Blue volunteered to conduct an initial survey of the subaquatic vegetation in Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary. The data that they collected provides much needed information on the various species and the health of the sanctuary.