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To the left is a satellite image of the Chesapeake Bay area. The black line superimposed on the satellite image marks the boundary of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The grey image on the right shows the details of Chesapeake Bay.
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Courtesy of USGS (United States Geological Survey

Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay is the largest of 130 estuaries in the United States. Rivers, streams and ground water drain into Chesapeake Bay where this fresh water mixes with the salt water from the Atlantic Ocean. This mixing of fresh water and salt water is what makes this an estuary.

The area surrounding the Bay is called the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The watershed is all the areas that have water that ultimately drains into the Bay. The Chesapeake Bay watershed is big! It includes parts of six states, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, and all of the District of Columbia. The black line on the satellite image to the left outlines the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Chesapeake Bay stretches from Havre De Grace, Maryland, to Norfolk, Virginia. It is a shallow bay, averaging only 21 feet deep. The Bay's widest point is 35 miles across near the mouth of the Potomac River.

Estuaries are special places where life thrives! Chesapeake Bay is no exception! The Bay watershed is home to more than 3,600 species of plants and animals. The Bay watershed is also home to 15.1 million people.

Humans have a huge effect on the other life in Chesapeake Bay. According to the Chesapeake Bay program, " each time a person uses electricity, drives a car or even drops a piece of trash, a chain of events that can affect the Bay occurs." Organizations like the Chesapeake Bay program are trying restore the Bay. They are helping people reduce pollution, restore plants that reduce erosion, and monitor the Bay's health. Many universities, companies and schools are helping to monitor the Bay's health by taking measurements of the water in the Bay. One such program is the HIGH TIDE program that involves area high schools that are making measurements of the water in the Bay in order to note changes in salinity, temperature and density.

Last modified October 17, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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