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Learn the Issues

There are many problems facing the Chesapeake Bay. The major pollutant to the Bay is excess nutrients, which come from agriculture, urban/suburban runoff, vehicle emissions and many other sources. Excess nutrients fuel the growth of algae blooms, which block sunlight that underwater bay grasses need to grow. When algae die, they are decomposed in a process that depletes the water of oxygen, which all aquatic animals need to survive. Learn more about some of the issues facing the Chesapeake Bay:

Bay Grasses

A volunteer helps the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service track bay grass abundance in the Chesapeake Bay.

Bay grasses are plants that grow underwater. Also known as submerged aquatic vegetation or SAV, bay grasses can be found in the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its streams, creeks and rivers, and are a critical part of the Bay ecosystem. They provide wildlife with food and habitat, add oxygen to the water, absorb nutrient pollution, trap sediment and reduce erosion. Improving water clarity is the most important step in bay grass restoration, because bay grasses need sunlight to grow. Because bay grasses are sensitive to pollution but quick to respond to improved water quality, their abundance is a good indicator of Bay health. You can watch changes in bay grass abundance take place over time using this interactive map.


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