Text Size: A  A  A

Discover the Chesapeake

The Chesapeake Bay - the largest estuary in the United States - is an incredibly complex ecosystem that includes important habitats and food webs. The Bay and its rivers, wetlands and forests provide homes, food and protection for diverse groups of animals and plants. Fish of all types and sizes either live in the Bay and its tributaries year-round or visit its waters as they migrate along the East Coast.

Bay 101

Select a category below to view videos from our Bay Program video library. Prior to using any of these videos, please view our terms of use to learn about usage rights.


Bay 101: Monitoring and Modeling the Chesapeake Bay

Science provides tools that allow communities to make the best decisions for water quality locally and downstream

The Chesapeake Bay Watershed

A watershed is an area of land that drains to a particular river, lake, bay or other body of water. Watersheds are sometimes called “basins” or "drainage basins."

We all live in a watershed. Some watersheds, like that of your local stream or creek, are small. Others, like the Chesapeake Bay watershed, are very large. Learn more about the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The Bay Ecosystem

An ecosystem is a complex set of relationships among living and non-living things. Air, water, soil, sunlight, plants and animals – including humans – make up an ecosystem. Ecosystems can be as tiny as a patch of dirt in your backyard, or as large as the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The Bay Ecosystem

The Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States, is an extremely productive and complex ecosystem. The Bay ecosystem consists of the Bay itself, its local rivers and streams, and all the plants and animals it supports. Learn more about the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

Critter Of The Month

Spotted Sandpiper
Actitis macularius

The spotted sandpiper is a medium-sized shorebird that can be found throughout the Chesapeake region during the summer.

Chesapeake History

2014

2014
  • The Chesapeake Executive Council signs the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, which contains goals and outcomes that will guide conservation and restoration across the watershed. For the first time, the Bay’s headwater states commit to those goals that reach beyond water quality.

2013

2013
  • A federal judge rules that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can set pollution limits for the Chesapeake Bay, thus upholding the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) that was challenged in court in 2011.

2012

2012
  • Harris Creek becomes the first target of the oyster restoration goals set forth in the Chesapeake Bay Executive Order: to restore oyster populations in 20 Bay tributaries by 2025. In this Choptank River tributary, existing reefs will be studied, new bars will be built and spat-on-shell will be planted.

2011

2011
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issues a new Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Permit to the District of Columbia. It is the first of its kind to incorporate green infrastructure into its requirements, setting a national model for stormwater management.

2010

2010
  • Maryland, Virginia and New York ban phosphates in dishwasher detergent to lower phosphorous pollution in local waterways.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency establishes the Total Maximum Daily Load to limit the amount of pollutants that can enter the Chesapeake Bay.
  • The Bay Program launches ChesapeakeStat to improve communication about restoration goals, progress and funding.

Bay FAQ


What pollutes rivers and streams?


What affects the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water?


Do phytoplankton migrate?


How does oxygen get into the water?


Where is the Chesapeake Bay saltiest?


Which states are in the Chesapeake Bay watershed?


What are forest buffers?


How do animals depend on underwater grasses?


What is the Chesapeake Bay's salinity range?


What is atmospheric deposition?

See more FAQs.

Bay Glossary

Marsh

A border habitat that connects shorelines to forests and wetlands. Marshes are found in fresh, brackish and salt water areas.

Atmospheric deposition

The process by which airborne pollutants settle onto land or water. “Wet deposition” refers to pollutants that fall to the earth while attached to raindrops or snowflakes. “Dry deposition” refers to pollutants that fall to the earth without precipitation.

Low-impact development (LID)

Innovative stormwater management practices that mimic a site’s pre-development hydrology. LID uses design techniques that reuse runoff and allow it to soak into the soil, helping to protect local water quality.

Threatened

A species that is likely to become endangered if not protected.

Impaired waters

Waterways that do not meet state water quality standards. Under the Clean Water Act, section 303(d), states, territories and authorized tribes are required to develop prioritized lists of impaired waters.

Decomposition

The process by which organic matter breaks down into simpler forms.

Diurnal

An animal that is active during daylight.

Competition

An interaction between members of two or more species that, as a consequence either of exploitation of a shared resource or of interference related to that resource, has a negative effect on fitness-related characteristics of at least one of the species.

See more bay terms.

410 Severn Avenue / Suite 112
Annapolis, Maryland 21403
Tel: (800) YOUR-BAY / Fax: (410) 267-5777
Directions to the Bay Program Office
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
©2012 Chesapeake Bay Program | All Rights Reserved