The Chesapeake Bay

What is the Chesapeake Bay? The Chesapeake Bay the largest bay of the United States, Covering more than 64,000 miles^2. But with how big The Chesapeake Bay is, comes along many problems that it is required to face due mostly from human activities. These problems consist of stormwater runoff pollution, animal waste pollution, and sea-level rise

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation

In 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation—which coined the slogan “Save the Bay” was founded as a private-sector response to a perceived disregard by industries and government to the bay’s health. About 50 years later, despite a population explosion, the Chesapeake is, by most measures, doing better than it was. Unfortunately, environmentalists say there’s a long way to go, particularly regarding managing runoff from farms and city streets and improving the health of crab and oyster populations, which have been decimated by disease, pollution, and “dead zones” areas with low amounts of oxygen, caused by excessive nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.

What are Oysters?

Oysters are considered the living filters within a body of water. They live off natural particles coming off various sea creatures, keeping the water clean for all to inhabit. Not only do they cleanse the waters, but they are also the food providers for some creatures as well. In more of a prey introspect, they are the natural food option for:

  • Anemones, sea nettles, and other filter feeders feed on oyster larvae.

  • Flatworms and mud crabs feed on the new spat.

  • Blue crabs and some fish feed on older spat and first-year oysters.

  • Shorebirds feed on adult oysters exposed on intertidal flats.

What caused the Oyster population to Decline?

Originally it started from the massive harvest back in the 1800s. In the 1850s, more than 1.5 million bushels of oysters were harvested from the Bay each year; three decades later, this number jumped to 20 million. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Bay’s oyster fishery was one of the most important in the United States. But over-harvesting removed huge volumes of oysters from the Bay and led to the demise of the Bay’s healthy reefs. Because these reefs have been scraped away by dredges, oyster beds are now often limited to flat, thin layers of dead shell and live oysters spread over the Bay’s bottom. These damaged habitats offer less surface area for reef-dwelling critters to inhabit and can be easily buried by sediment.

Continuing after that of the loss of surfacing of the oysters to bed, the rise of the pollution from runoffs/land changes became an additional issue of the oyster decline. Over a long case of time, the watershed along the Chesapeake Bay has changed the land use, causing deforestation of the Bay, Because deforestation, the increase of the number of nutrients given to the bay has become excessive which leads to bad water quality. fuel the growth of algae blooms that create low oxygen “dead zones” that hinder the development of oyster larvae; sediment can suffocate oysters and other shellfish. Stress-related to poor water quality can make oysters more susceptible to disease. Leading towards their death.

According to the Chesapeake Bay Program-

“In the 1600s, forests covered 95 percent of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Today, our most recent data show that 57 percent of the watershed—about 24 million acres—is forested. More than 70 percent of this sensitive ecosystem should be forested if it is to remain healthy in the face of continued pollution.”

Forests are crucial to the health of the Chesapeake Bay. It protects clean air and water, provide habitat to wildlife, store carbon, control floods and support the region’s economy. But human activities have reduced tree cover and fragmented the forests that still exist. When forests are destroyed and fragmented by development, their ecological services, and economic benefits are lost. Conserving and expanding forest cover is a critical, cost-effective way to reduce pollution and restore the Bay.