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Kayak the Delaware River & Learn about Local Waterways
Philly

Kayak the Delaware River & Learn about Local Waterways

Explore the Delaware River with Independence Seaport Museum’s Eco Tours

Years ago, the Delaware River was full of poop… literally.

A mix of unprocessed sewage, blood from slaughterhouses, oil from refineries and toxic waste from chemical companies created a dead zone on the river. As rumor has it, World War II pilots could even smell the Delaware from the air.

Thanks to the Clean Water Act in 1972, the Delaware River has come a long way. Today, Philly’s former aqua wasteland is a thriving waterfront complete with beer gardens, movies on the river, and parks that keep popping up riverside.

There’s new programming from the Independence Seaport Museum to encourage people not only to explore the Delaware River but to educate them about the industrial past and the importance of our waterways.

delaware river kayak tour

Independence Seaport Museum’s Kayaking Program

We attended a press preview tour to see what it’s all about.

Eco Tour Delaware River

The Independence Seaport Museum launched its kayaking excursions on the Delaware River last Summer to destinations including Graffiti Pier, Three Sisters Shipwreck, Petty’s Island and more. The newest offering for 2019 is the Eco Tours, which talk about how the Delaware River watershed impacts the local ecosystem.

Philly Independence Seaport Musuem Eco tour Kayak

The tour starts outside of the Independence Seaport Museum, with an introduction and history of the Delaware River with an emphasis on conservation. Despite the industrial past, there’s evidence of wildlife returning to the area, including recent beaver and muskrat spottings. How can we help the local ecosystem where it can sustain wildlife, while still using the waters as a city?

One way to clean waters includes mussels. Now in its second year, the Independence Seaport Museum keeps three buckets of mussels off the pier, with an estimated total of 300+ mussels. Each mussel can filter 10 to 20 gallons of water each day.

mussels delaware river

“There’s a direct connection from the trash in Philly neighborhoods to their waterways.”

Kaitlyn Sniffen

The Eco Tour proceeded to leave the Marina and head south towards the Residences at Dockside, where we spotted two things: the water drainage pipes spilling into the waterways and a couple of pieces of litter.

According to Kaitlyn Sniffen, Superintendent of Waterfront and Education of the Independence Seaport Museum, these Eco Tours can help make the connection between the pollution in the river and our neighborhoods.

“One commong misunderstanding is that residents see that there’s a lot of trash in the river, and think people just throw trash directly in the water. Realistically, there’s a lot of trash on the street that gets washed into the sewer system, and that gets washed into the river. There’s a direct connection from the trash in their neighborhoods to their waterways.”

Kaitlyn Sniffen, Independence Seaport Museum

People can help keep waterways clean by picking up trash before it can get into the waterways, which has a big impact as well.

Other fun facts? Upon spotting a hawk during the tour, the guides mentioned the Delaware River is a common flight path for birds.

Oh, and we rescued 2 pieces of litter that floated on by during the tour.

Trash in water
2 more pieces of trash removed from our waterways…

Find out about Kakaying & the Kayak Eco Tour

Want to get out on the water? Find out more about Philly Seaport Museums kayak programming.

Interested in this two-hour paddle? This tour is accessible for beginners, over weekends or a weeknight on select days. You can find out more and sign up for the Independence Seaport Museum’s tour through Eventbrite.

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Julie Hancher
Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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