The Importance Of The Chesapeake Bay In The United States

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The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. The bay holds eighteen hundred trillion gallons of water and stretches over 200 miles in length between its most northern point, the Susquehanna River to the Bay’s most southern tip, the Atlantic Ocean. Home to more than seventeen million people, the Chesapeake Bay is the primary water source for over 150 rivers and streams. Because of the vast amount of rivers and streams the bay feeds, this watershed impacts the lives of citizens on the eastern shore spanning a total of six U.S. states. The importance of the Chesapeake Bay is incredible; two of the United States’ five major North Atlantic ports – Baltimore and Hampton Roads – are on the Bay. (Chesapeake Bay Program, n/d). The highly productive ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay provides food and shelter for a wide variety of plant and animal life in and surrounding the Bay. The critical natural resources the bay provides stimulates economic growth and has for centuries.
One of the bays biggest resources is oysters. Oysters are filter feeders which mean they pump water through their gills trapping algae, sediments and nutrients as they release clean the water back into the bay. The material collected through the oysters digestive process forms crystallized layers of nutrient rich matter which sometimes develop into pearls. Filtering the water provides food for the the oysters to grow and also helps to continuously clean the Chesapeake Bay. One oyster can filter fifty gallons of water within a twenty-four hour period according to many sources. Oysters were once able to filter the entire bay in about a week, however, these creatures are now scarce in the bay. The Chesapeake Bay’s oyster, also known as (crasso...

... middle of paper ... for oysters which combats over harvesting as well. All these resolutions are helping to increase the bay's oyster population.
Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay are struggling right now. “Maryland, Virginia, and their federal partners are faced with a historic opportunity. An exhaustive five-year study concluded that importing a foreign oyster is the wrong approach and that restoration of the native oyster should be scaled up and focused.”(cbf 2010). With new plans President Obama put in place, the oyster restoration program is on the right path. “President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order for the Chesapeake Bay in 2009, and in response the federal government set a goal of rebuilding functioning networks of oyster reefs in 20 tributaries by 2025.”(cbf 2010). This type of forward thinking is going to increase the Chesapeake Bay's oyster population.
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