Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Explore our list of frequently asked questions to learn more about the Bay and its watershed, habitats and wildlife. You can browse the FAQ by category, or explore the answers to some of our most common questions below.
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A bay is an inlet of the sea. An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water where fresh water and salt water meet. Some bays—like the Chesapeake—are estuaries.
A tributary is a stream or river that eventually flows into a larger body of water. For example, the James River is a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.
Fresh water enters the Chesapeake Bay primarily from its rivers and streams. Fresh water also enters via rain, snow and groundwater.
The water at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay is salty because it is mostly made up of salty water from the ocean. As you move north in the Bay, the water becomes less salty. Most of the Bay is brackish (a mixture of fresh and salty water).
Salinity is a measure of the amount of dissolved salts in the water. Water can be fresh, salty or brackish (a mixture of salt and fresh water).
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest of more than 100 estuaries in the United States.
Estuaries are among the most productive environments on earth, creating more organic matter each year than similarly-sized forests and agricultural areas. Estuaries also provide diverse habitats for wildlife and aquatic life, protect our communities against flooding, reduce pollution to waterways, and support local economies through commercial and recreational activities.
An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water where fresh water from streams and rivers mixes with salt water from the ocean. Some river mouths are estuaries. For example, the tidal portion of the Hudson River in New York is an estuary.
An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water where fresh water from streams and rivers mixes with salt water from the ocean. The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary.
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