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: Emerald Ash Borer

Learn about efforts to curb the invasive insect that is decimating ash trees

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

Lumpfish
Cyclopterus lumpus

The lumpfish lives in the North Atlantic and occasionally visits the Chesapeake Bay. The first fin on its back is covered in skin, giving it its characteristic high crest.

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


How does air pollution affect Chesapeake Bay health?


What makes an area a wetland?


When do underwater grasses grow?


Can animals swim out of the dead zone to safety?


Why has the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population declined over time?


How many people live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed?


What is the difference between epifauna and infauna?


How does polluted groundwater affect the Chesapeake Bay?


What is the Chesapeake Bay's average salinity?


What is the ideal salinity for eastern oysters?

See more FAQs.

Bay Glossary

Photic zone

The layer of water that sunlight is able to penetrate through and reach plants growing underwater.

Reservoir

A natural or artificial place where water is collected or stored for use, especially water for supplying a community, irrigating land and furnishing power.

Land use

The way land is used by humans. Forest, agricultural land and urban/suburban land are all land uses.

Resident

A species that lives permanently in a particular area.

Piedmont

Uplands or hill country located above the fall line. Rivers and streams in the Piedmont region are not influenced by the tide.

Conical

Shaped like a cone.

Spawn

To release eggs and/or sperm into the water.

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.

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