So far, I have talked about places that I want to see for myself in the future, and I’ve yet to talk about anything that is a bit closer to home for me. It’s not that I don’t like the places closer to home, but I think sometimes I forget that what is normal for me may considered extraordinary to other people. Today, we will be talking about the Chesapeake Bay, which plays a role in my life every day.
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and is the third largest in the world. A quick-and-dirty definition of an estuary is it’s an aquatic area in which rivers meet the sea, where freshwater and saltwater mix.
Now, the Chesapeake Bay is fed by over 150 rivers and streams, but its main source comes from the Susquehanna River. The total area of the bay is about 3200 square miles. For those that need help visualizing how big the bay is, it’s about three times as large as Rhode Island, and it is also bigger than the state of Delaware—that’s a lot of area! And it’s not just water; this even covers all the various salt marshes and sub-estuaries around it as well.
Surrounding the bay are coastlines that belong to both Maryland and Eastern Virginia, but the watershed that it belongs to includes four other states! Even though the productivity of the bay has decreased drastically over the years, it still provides more fish and shellfish than any other estuary in the United States and provides over 500 million pounds of seafood a year, so if you like eating oysters or crabs, they probably came from the Chesapeake Bay.
The bay is very important because it supports more than 3600 plant and animal species; it also supports more than 17 million people who live, work, and play in and around the bay. If you’ve never visited the area, I highly recommend spending time somewhere along the bay. There are many beautiful camp grounds you can stay at. There are boating and fishing opportunities, and all sorts of trails and parks around the bay that will give you a beautiful scenic, and informative look at the life of an estuary and its salt marshes.
There are even places where you can sign up to help clean up the trash and pollution from surrounding areas that get washed up. It’ll definitely take more than a single trip to see even half of what there is to offer, but visiting the Chesapeake Bay will be totally worth it in the end—especially if you have great weather to experience it in!
The Chesapeake Bay is very important to me because I have always been one of those 17 million people that it has helped to support. I have been to camp grounds around the bay and have sailed it a few times. It is a beautiful place to lose and find yourself, and I believe it is an environment worth saving and preserving for many generations to come!
So, please, if you have the time, come and see this place for yourself; it truly is a national treasure! And who knows, you may see dolphins or a humpback whale or two.
Sources and cool links:
Ocean: The Definitive Visual Guide made by the American Museum of Natural History