In its natural state, Oakland's waterfront was covered by hundreds of acres of salt marshes and shallow tidelands. These tidal wetlands provided food, shelter, and other benefits to a wide variety of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, insects, and mammals. Dredging and fill for military, Port, and commercial uses have greatly reduced the habitat in size and quality. By 1935, fill had extended some areas of the Oakland shoreline nearly two miles into the bay. Middle Harbor is located on some of these former tidal wetlands, most of which were underwater at high tide. The Port of Oakland and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are working on a project to restore shallow wildlife habitats to Middle Harbor.
The 180-acre Middle Harbor Enhancement Area adjacent to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park restores shallow water habitat and provides habitat enhancement, including eelgrass, in the former Navy Fleet Industrial Supply Center. These efforts provide an opportunity for the study of marine biology and habitat restoration efforts.
During your visit, you may see some of this work underway. Dredged sediments from the Oakland navigation channels have been used in the Middle Harbor Enhancement project, and a jetty has been constructed near the mouth of the harbor to reduce tidal energy and promote revegetation.
Middle Harbor Shoreline Park is situated in the heart of an active container seaport. Visitors can see the direct loading and unloading of a ship, and observe the different pieces of equipment it takes to move cargo. For nearly a century, the Port of Oakland has managed the efficient movement of goods and people in and out of the region. The nearly 1,100-acre seaport is the fifth busiest container port in the U.S. and the third busiest container port on the U.S. West Coast. It includes 24 berths and 36 cranes, of which 30 are post-Panamax size, including 15 super post-Panamax size capable of handling the latest-generation ships. The Port of Oakland is primarily an export port, shipping such products as agricultural commodities, meats, waste paper and metal, cotton and lumber. Containers arrive and depart on large ships that circumnavigate the globe. Containers are moved on and off ships with large gantry cranes to terminal trucks, and are stored in the terminal yards prior to placement on a train or truck for distribution to its destination.