Chesapeake Bay

What is the Chesapeake and Why is it Important?

It might seem like you have nothing in common with a backyard box turtle, geese grazing in a local field or the fish that may eventually make it onto your plate, but you’re all connected in one critical way: You share the same water. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and one of the largest in the world. Its watershed—the land that drains into the Bay or into the rivers, creeks or streams connected to it—is home to more than 17 million people and 2,700 species of animals, all of which depend on a healthy Bay for survival.

Beyond the diverse habitats it provides for wildlife in the area, the Chesapeake Bay serves another critical purpose: It’s the foundation of our local economy. It’s home to two of the five major shipping ports in the North Atlantic and supplies us with the seafood and recreational activities that fuel our local businesses. Imagine a summer on the Chesapeake with no swimming, fishing or boating! In order to continue reaping the benefits of the Bay, we need to take responsibility for its conservation.

How We’re Changing the Chesapeake

At the National Aquarium, we’re working to protect the watershed and restore natural areas that help clean our water. We’ve formed partnerships with regional and national organizations to revitalize tidal wetlands through cleanups and habitat restoration projects. Every spring and fall, we recruit volunteers to restore habitat for wildlife, remove debris and maintain trails at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore. In Masonville Cove, we’re planting thousands of native wetland grasses—14,000 already in 2014!—to create a healthier habitat for local wildlife. And in Nassawango Creek Preserve, we’re bringing back the Atlantic white cedar, a rare tree that gradually disappeared when the wetlands it depended on were drained.

Our many hands-on education programs convey a message of hope to generations young and old: There’s still time for change, and every effort counts. We aim to instill in the community a sense of responsibility and empowerment regarding conservation issues, such as those surrounding the Chesapeake Bay. There’s strength in numbers, and we can ensure a healthy future for the Bay and its watershed by working together to preserve and restore it today.

How You Can Get Involved

Join us and other volunteers as we team up to restore the Bay! The Aquarium Conservation Team (ACT!) provides volunteers like you with hands-on opportunities to help restore habitats, learn about watershed dynamics and develop the knowledge and skills to serve as participants and leaders in environmental stewardship.

Volunteer for a cleanup, help us plant native grasses and shrubs in local wetlands or join us as we restore habitats and stabilize coastal sand dunes. Sign up for our conservation newsletter to get all the latest updates, and check out our schedule to learn about upcoming events.

Join Our Team

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Conservation Events

For questions or concerns, please contact or (410) 576-1014