Chesapeake Bay Watershed

In celebration of World Water Week, learn about the largest estuary in the United States, and how important it is to people, plants and animals in its watershed.  

Published September 02, 2017

The Chesapeake Bay is home to millions of people and an incredibly diverse array of species! The Bay is one of the most productive bodies of water in the world, but years of human-caused threats have impacted its health. Protection efforts have been underway for nearly two decades, and the National Aquarium is proud to help protect this resource through numerous conservation activities. 

If you think the Bay is just a body of water, think again! Check out all the Bay supports: 

  • As of 2015, an estimated 18,091,710 people lived in the Bay watershed, up from 17,986,898 in 2014. Experts predict the watershed’s population will surpass 20 million by 2030 and reach 21.4 million by 2040. This is significant because the health of our rivers and streams is directly tied to population growth, and the decline of the Bay is correlated with the rise in the number of people that live in its watershed.
  • The Bay supports more than 3,600 species of plants and animals, including 348 species of finfish, 173 species of shellfish, more than 2,700 plant species, 29 species of waterfowl and more than 16 species of underwater grasses.Chesapeake-Bay-terrapin
  • An estimated 500 million pounds of seafood are harvested annually from the Chesapeake Bay. The 2009 Fisheries Economics of the U.S. Report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicates that the commercial seafood industry in Maryland and Virginia contributed $3.39 billion in sales, $890 million in income and nearly 34,000 jobs to the local economy.Chesapeake-Bay-aquaculture-oysters
  • The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s 2016 State of the Bay report had the highest overall score since the organization first started issuing these reports 18 years ago. Each of the three indicator categories—pollution, habitat and fisheries—has improved. Positive points include clearer water, regrowth of acres of lush underwater grass beds and the comeback of the Chesapeake's native oysters, which were nearly eradicated by disease, pollution and overfishing. Even with these improvements, there are still opportunities for improvement.Chesapeake-Bay-cleanup

You can help improve the health of the Bay! Get involved in a local cleanup, think about your water usage and call your local representatives to tell them you support a clean future for the Chesapeake Bay! 

 
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