The aquatic ecosystem of Chesapeake Bay supports a remarkable diversity of sea creatures.
From bottom-dwellers to swimmers to reef-clutching shellfish, the Bay environment produces more than $175 million in commercial harvests each year. That's a lot of seafood!
Experience this diversity firsthand by eating at a local restaurant or going on a charter fishing trip.
Eating From the Estuary
Rockfish (striped bass), Maryland's state fish is also the Bay's premier sport and commercial species. Silver-flanked with iridescent stripes, rockfish is a challenge to catch and a delight to eat.
Oysters Oysters, a sign of Bay health, do their own part by eating algae and filtering Bay water. Controlling erosion from upstream sources keeps young oysters from smothering under layers of silt, helping stabilize populations of this delicious food.
A Salty Stew Because the Bay bottom is lower than sea level, water rushes in from the Atlantic Ocean at varying levels throughout the year. Winds pushing the tides and high runoff from rains are just two factors affecting the changeable salinity of the Bay.
Life in the Balance
The animals that live here are well adapted to this changing aquatic environment. But as human influences have disrupted Bay health over the past century, seafood populations have decreased and harvests have declined.
What You Can Do
More than 15 million people live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which stretches from New York to Virginia and the entire District of Columbia. Everyone who lives in the watershed is just a few minutes from one or more of the 100,000 streams or rivers draining into the Bay. From planting erosion-controlling strips of vegetation, to composting, to reducing pesticide use, our cumulative actions can turn the tide and help make the Bay a healthier place. You can make an impact, and see it on your plate!