Chesapeake Bay

From Academic Kids

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Chesapeake Bay - Landsat photo

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Virginia and Maryland. The Chesapeake Bay's watershed covers 64,000 mi² (165,800 km²) in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. More than 150 rivers and streams drain into the Bay. The Bay itself is about 189 miles (304 km) long, from the Susquehanna River in the north to the Atlantic Ocean in the south.



The Bay is the drowned valley of the Susquehanna, meaning that was where the river flowed when sea level was lower, but the Bay's geology and its present form and its very location have also been affected by a bolide impact event at the end of the Eocene (about 35.5 million years ago), forming the recently discovered submerged Chesapeake Bay impact crater. At its narrowest point, near Annapolis, Maryland, it is only 4.3 miles (6.9 km) wide and is spanned by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Near its mouth, it is spanned by the 23 mi. (37 km) long Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

Parts of the Bay, especially the coast line of Calvert County, are lined by cliffs as the result of receding waters millions of years ago. These cliffs, generally known as Calvert Cliffs, are famous for their fossils, especially fossilized shark teeth. Fossilized shark teeth are commonly found washed up on the beaches next to the cliffs. Scientist's Cliffs is a beach community in Calvert County, named so because of the cliffs' propensity for geological finds and numerous fossils.

Much of the bay is quite shallow. A person 6'7" (2 m) tall could not only walk across the mouth of the Susquehanna at the upper bay, but could also traverse some 700,000 acres (2,800 km²) of the bay without being entirely submerged. On average, the depth of the Bay is less than 5 fathoms (30 feet or 9 meters).


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The Chesapeake Bay was the site of the Battle of the Chesapeake in 1781, during which the French fleet defeated the Royal Navy in the decisive naval battle of the American Revolutionary War.


The largest rivers flowing into the Bay are:

Fishing Industry

The word Chesepiooc is an Algonquian word meaning "Great Shellfish Bay." The Bay was once known for its great seafood production, especially blue crabs, clams and oysters. The plentiful oyster harvests led to the development of the Skipjack, the State Boat of Maryland, which is the only remaining working boat type in the United States still under sail power. Today, the body of water is less productive than it used to be, because of runoff from development throughout the watershed, urbanization, particularly on its western shore, overharvesting, and invasion of foreign species. The bay though, still yields more fish and shellfish (about 45,000 short tons or 40,000 metric tons yearly) than any other estuary in the United States.

The Bay is famous for its Rockfish, otherwise known as Striped Bass. Once on the verge of extinction, Rockfish have made a significant comeback and are now able to be fished in strictly controlled and limited quantities.

The Bay serves as the predominate source of eel in the United States.

In 2005, local governments began debate on the introduction to certain parts of the Bay of a species of asian oyster, to revive the lagging shellfish industry.

Deteriorating Environment Conditions

In the 1970s, the Chesapeake Bay contained one of the planet's first identified marine dead zones, where hypoxic waters were so depleted in oxygen they were unable to support life, identified when massive fish kills resulted. Chesapeake Bay's oyster industry has also suffered from two diseases: MSX and dermo. Harmful algae blooms such as Pfiesteria which can effect both fish and humans is also a problem. The depletion of oysters due to overharvesting has had a particularly harmful effect on the quality of the Bay. The reduction of oysters, which serve as natural water filters for the Bay, has led to reduced water quality of the Bay.


The waters of the Bay are used to cool the reactors of a nuclear power plant, located in Calvert County.

The bay is also known for the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, a dog breed developed in this area.

External links

de:Chesapeake Bay fr:Baie de Chesapeake he:מפרץ צ'ספיק ja:チェサピーク湾 pl:Zatoka Chesapeake


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