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Captain John Smith visits the Bay

In 1608, Captain John Smith set off on the first of two voyages where he charted the land and waterways, and later drew an elaborate and remarkably accurate map of the Chesapeake Bay.

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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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4,863 feet above sea level

At 4,863 feet above sea level, Spruce Knob is the highest point in the Chesapeake watershed.

87 species of waterbirds

During the winter, the Bay supports 87 species of waterbirds. Of these wintering waterbirds, 14 species rely on the Bay to serve as habitat for more than 10% of their continental populations.

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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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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18 million people

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is home to more than 18 million people. Ten million of them live along or near the Bay’s shores. About 150,000 new people move into the Bay watershed each year.

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Three geologic regions

The Chesapeake Bay watershed contains three distinct geologic regions: the Atlantic coastal plain, the Piedmont plateau and the Appalachian province.

The Bay's largest tributary

The Susquehanna River is the Bay’s largest tributary, and contributes about half of the Bay’s freshwater (about 19 million gallons per minute).

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.

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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6,282,718 acres of greenspace

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

10 U.S. presidents

There have been 10 U.S. presidents from the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Woodrow Wilson, James Buchanan and Joe Biden.

80% of the Bay's freshwater

Collectively, the Chesapeake’s three largest rivers—the Susquehanna, Potomac and James Rivers—provide more than 80% of the fresh water to the Bay.

How we can fix water pollution

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

One million waterfowl

Nearly one million waterfowl winter on the Bay–approximately one-third of the Atlantic coast’s migratory population. The birds stop to feed and rest on the Bay during their annual migration along the Atlantic Migratory Bird Flyway.

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9.6 million acres of land

Approximately 9.6 million acres of land in the Bay watershed have been permanently protected from development by Bay Program partners.

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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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500,000 Canada geese

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

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Largest land-to-water ratio in the world

The Chesapeake Bay’s land-to-water ratio is 14:1: the largest of any coastal water body in the world. This is why our actions on land have such a big impact on the Bay’s health.

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.

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.

Scooping the poop

Half of pet owners always pick up after their pet, but one-third of pet owners seldom or never do so. Pet waste contains bacteria that can harm human health and contaminate the water we use for drinking, swimming and fishing.