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Home > About the Chesapeake > Bay Info > What is the Bay?
What is the Bay?

A few natural facts about the Bay:

  • “Wonder lies in the bay and its watershed in full measure. It is nothing alien or mystical, or reserved for the expert. It is a different way of looking at things.”

    Tom Horton, Saving the Bay
    The Bay is 15,000 years old, geologists say. It was formed when an immense glacier melted, flooding the ancient Susquehanna River valley.
  • Shallow overall, the Bay is 22 feet deep on average. But in spots it reaches depths as great as 175 feet.
  • The Bay’s width ranges from 3.4 miles near Aberdeen, Maryland, to 35 miles near the mouth of the Potomac River.
  • It holds about 18 trillion gallons of water.
  • Nearly 12,000 miles of shoreline wind around the edges of the Bay and the shores of its tidal rivers.
  • More than 150 major rivers run through the broad Chesapeake watershed. About 10,000 smaller tributaries drain into those rivers.
  • Some of the fossils found on the Bay’s shores today date back to times when elephant-like mammoths roamed the landscape.

For more information on the Chesapeake Bay, visit the Chesapeake Bay Program at www.chesapeakebay.net.


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