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Open Waters

Open waters lie beyond the Chesapeake Bay's shoreline and shallows. This wide, open area includes channels that are more than 100 feet deep.

The Bay's open waters are teeming with life, including fish, birds, invertebrates and aquatic mammals. However, these waters are susceptible to low-oxygen areas called "dead zones" that often form during warm weather.

Open waters are a haven for migratory fish such as bluefish, cobia and mackerels. These large fish visit the Bay in summer to feast on menhaden, anchovies and other small fish and invertebrates. And although you cannot see them, microscopic plankton float through open waters. These tiny plants and animals form the base of the Bay's food web.

In winter, animals that dwell in the Bay's shallow waters retreat to deep channels. At the surface, hundreds of thousands of migratory birds stop on the Chesapeake's open waters to rest and feed.

Click on the images below to learn about some of the critters that live in the Chesapeake Bay's open waters.

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