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21 feet deep

The Bay is surprisingly shallow. Its average depth, including all tidal tributaries, is about 21 feet. A person who is six feet tall could wade through more than 700,000 acres of the Bay and never get his or her hat wet.

How we can fix water pollution

Eighty-six percent of watershed residents believe if people work together, water pollution can be fixed.

Filtering drinking water

Forests and trees help filter and protect the drinking water of 75% of watershed residents.

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500,000 Canada geese

More than 500,000 Canada geese winter in and near the Bay.

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Getting oxygen underwater

Just like those on land, animals in the Chesapeake Bay need oxygen to survive. Oxygen is present underwater in dissolved form, and in order to thrive, animals like blue crabs need dissolved oxygen concentrations of three milligrams per liter.

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Where does the Bay get its water?

The Bay receives about half its water volume from the Atlantic Ocean in the form of saltwater. The other half (freshwater) drains into the Bay from the enormous 64,000-square-mile watershed.

Volunteering with environmental organizations

While one-third of watershed residents have volunteered their time or donated their money to a charitable organization, less than two in ten volunteers have done so for an environmental organization.

11,684 miles of shoreline

The Bay and its tidal tributaries have 11,684 miles of shoreline—more than the entire U.S. west coast.

The Powhatan tribes

There were many different tribes in the region before Europeans arrived, but the dominant group were Algonquian speakers known collectively as the Powhatan tribes.

2 of 5 major ports

Two of the United States’ five major North Atlantic ports—Baltimore and Hampton Roads—are on the Bay.

First recorded European to enter the Bay

In 1524, Italian Captain Giovanni da Verrazano became the first recorded European to enter the Chesapeake Bay.

12 major rivers

Major rivers emptying into the Bay include the James, York, Rappahannock, Potomac, Patuxent, Patapsco and Susquehanna from the west and the Pocomoke, Wicomico, Nanticoke, Choptank and Chester from the east.

60% of Chesapeake forests

Sixty percent of Chesapeake forests have been divided into disconnected fragments by roads, homes and other gaps that are too wide or dangerous for wildlife to cross.

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3,600 species of plants and animals

The Bay supports more than 3,600 species of plants and animals, including 348 species of finfish, 173 species of shellfish, over 2,700 plant species and more than 16 species of underwater grasses.

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6,282,718 acres of greenspace

There are 6,282,718 acres of accessible green space within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

12 miles wide

The mouth of the Chesapeake Bay is about 12 miles wide between its northern point near Cape Charles, Virginia, and its southern point close to Cape Henry, Virginia.

Can we do more?

Seventy percent of watershed residents want to do more to help make their local creeks, rivers and lakes healthier.

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1,300 public access points

There are more than 1,300 public access points on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

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70 acres of forest lost each day

Forests cover 55% of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Between 1990 and 2005, the watershed lost an estimated 100 acres of forest land each day. While this rate fell in 2006 to an estimated 70 acres per day, this rate is still unsustainable.

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1,800 local governments

There are nearly 1,800 local governments in the Bay watershed, including towns, cities, counties and townships.

Avoiding toxic pesticides

Forty-six percent of watershed residents never use toxic pesticides in or around their homes. You can evaluate a pesticide’s toxicity to judge the risk in using it, or make your own non-toxic pesticide with garlic, vinegar, cooking oil and other common household items.

Replacing grass lawn with native plants

Twenty-six percent of watershed residents have replaced an area of their grass lawn with native plants. Native plants provide food and habitat to bees, birds and butterflies, and often don’t need to be watered or fertilized.

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4,480 square miles of surface area

The surface area of the Bay and its tidal tributaries is approximately 4,480 square miles.

Remnants of an ancient river

A few deep troughs run along much of the Bay’s length and are believed to be remnants of the ancient Susquehanna River.