Delaware River: Our highway to the ocean Delaware River: Our highway to the ocean

Delaware River: Our highway to the ocean

September 27, 2021


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The Delaware River is steeped in natural beauty, history and significance to everything that lives in its watershed. Flowing 330 miles from New York State to the Atlantic Ocean, the Delaware River is our region’s “highway to the ocean.”

Adventure Aquarium has a first-row seat to the Camden Waterfront. On most days, the Delaware River’s glassy appearance is the perfect backdrop for any visitor’s photo op. But just how important is this body of water? Well, you are about to find out!

Named River of the Year by American River in 2020, the Delaware River runs through rural, suburban and urban communities serving about 15 million people and providing drinking water for 42 counties within a five-state region. The river’s watershed (an area of land that drains runoff water from rain and snowmelt into a river or body of water) is 13,500 square miles and includes 216 tributaries. That’s some pretty impressive numbers!

Serving all those people means the Delaware River is part of an enormous economic engine, including industry and recreation as well as a transportation route. On any given day at the Aquarium, you’ll see sail boats, cargo ships or even jet skiers on the water! A great way to enjoy the Delaware River is by the numerous circuit trails found in Camden. The Ulysses Wiggins Waterfront Park Promenade runs along the river outside of Adventure Aquarium. Camden also features events on the waterfront including the Delaware River Festival.

Snapping Turtle Snapping Turtle

In addition to the importance the river has on humans, the Delaware River is home to important resident and migratory wildlife. The Delaware provides habitat for over 200 resident and migrant fish species, as well as birds, reptiles, mammals and invertebrates.

Even with so many relying on it, the river still faces challenges. While the water quality of the Delaware River has improved over the past few decades through efforts from protection agencies and community members, the river suffers from pollution. Some of the main sources of pollution in the Delaware River’s basin include pollution runoff, fossil fuel mining, chemical and oil spills, sewage from wastewater overflows during extreme rain events, dumping of household chemicals and pharmaceuticals and industrial pollution.

There are many things you can do to help move the river toward being completely fishable, swimmable and drinkable. Both Adventure Aquarium and the Center for Aquatic Sciences offer guests and community members resources to help you make choices and everyday practices that encourage sustainable practices. An easy thing you can do during your next trip to Adventure Aquarium is check out the Aquarium’s free 17-stop, self-guided audio tour, Action for Animals to learn ways to make a difference at home.

Of course, one of the best things you and your family can do is to connect with nature by getting outside and enjoying it!

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