The St. Mary’s River is an essential component to the College’s history, culture, and ecology, making the College distinctive in higher education.
The varsity sailing team has won 15 national collegiate championships and the College hosts the annual Governor’s Cup big boat race from Annapolis to St. Mary’s City. Additionally, one of the most enjoyable events of the year is the annual Great Bamboo Boat Race on Family Weekend.
More than a place of refuge and relaxation, or of distinction, the river connects us to the larger Chesapeake Bay, a national treasure. Perhaps the world’s richest estuary, the Bay is the central hub of commerce, culture and ecology for the Mid-Atlantic. The Chesapeake is home to over 3,500 species of plants and animals, including some of the region’s most iconic and commercially prized animals like the oyster (Crassostrea virginica), blue crab (Callinectes sapidus), rockfish (Morone saxitalis) and our very own sea hawk (Pandalion haliatus).
These creatures, along with the cord grass, loblolly pine and sycamore, are iconic. These species have been central to local livelihoods and culture for hundreds of years. The River and the Bay sustains them as it sustained the Acquintanack and Yaocomaco Native Americans, the first English settlers of St. Mary’s City, the tobacco farmers, and the watermen. The same river has molded and nurtured the St. Mary’s community since the College’s inception in 1840.
Yet as famed as the Chesapeake’s rich biodiversity and productivity are, it is also currently in a damaged state. The large population of the surrounding area, coupled with industrial waste, agricultural pollution and overharvesting of wildlife all have crippled this unparalleled natural resource.