"It is so known through the length and breadth of its watershed. The Bay.
There is no possible confusion with any other body of water, no need for more
precise description. It is, after all, the continent’s largest estuary.
Its waters are rich, the main supply of oysters, crabs, clams and other seafoods
for much of the Atlantic seaboard. Its shorelines cradled our first settlements.
It is the Chesapeake.”
William Warner, Beautiful Swimmers: Waterman, Crabs and the Chesapeake
The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary stretching from southernmost Virginia
to northernmost Maryland, a distance of 180 miles. In textbook terms, that
means the Bay is a tidal area where ocean water and fresh water mingle. In the real world, that means the Bay is the heart of an astonishly beautiful, productive and diverse natural environment. The watershed that drains into the Bay covers 64,000 miles and extends into Delaware, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania,
and New York. [more...]
For centuries, the Bay has served as a source of wonder and inspiration.
Its beauty stirs the human spirit. Its bounty supports more than 3,600 different
species of plants and animals. Its resources drive the economies of nearby
towns and cities. Its shores are dotted with cultural and historical treasures
that speak to the founding of the nation and the development of the American
Some 16 million people live in the Bay region today, compared with 3 million
a century ago. And the population continues to grow, bringing ever more houses,
roads, and sprawling subdivisions. As water and energy needs increase, so do
the dangers to the long-term health of the Bay from pollution and other development-related
pressures. That’s the focus of one of the nation’s most important
conservation and restoration efforts, the Chesapeake Bay Program. [more…]