Quick Facts About the Chesapeake Bay

Size
The Chesapeake Bay is 200 miles long. 48 major rivers feed it. Altogether, the Bay has over 100 tributaries that drain into a 64,000-square-mile basin.

Age
Some people think that the Chesapeake Bay began taking shape 18,000 years ago, and assumed its present dimensions about 3000 years ago.

Formation
There are two theories on how the Bay was created. Some scientists believe the Bay was formed when an asteroid known as a bolide hit the earth forming a giant crater. Other scientists believe giant glaciers that froze and melted over millions of years carved the Bay from the river basin of the Susquehanna River.

Depth
The average depth is 21 feet. At its deepest point, southeast of Annapolis, Maryland, the Bay is 174 feet deep.

A person 6 feet tall could wade over 700,000 acres of the Bay without becoming completely submerged.

Volume
The Bay holds about 18 trillion gallons of water. That amount of water would fill over fifty billion bathtubs to the brim.

Plants & Animals
The Chesapeake Bay is home to more than 2,700 plant and animal species.

Oysters
Oysters help to purify the Bay by feeding on sediments, nutrients, and algae, which can harm it. A single adult oyster can filter up to 60 gallons of water a day. Oysters were once so plentiful they could filter the entire volume of Bay water in a few days. This process now takes over a year.

It takes five years to raise an adult oyster. Oysters change their sex during their lives, starting as males and usually ending as females.

Blue Crab
Blue crabs grow by molting or shedding their shell.

The scientific name for the blue crab is Callinectes Sapidus, which means "beautiful swimmer that is savory."

Blue crabs will eat almost anything, including each other! The older crabs often eat the younger ones.

Underwater Bay Grass
There are many different types of underwater grass in the Bay. They are also known as SAV, or Submerged Aquatic Vegetation.

Bay grasses provide food and shelter for waterfowl, fish, and shellfish.

Bay grasses produce oxygen that helps keep the Bay healthy.

Bay grasses absorb the algae-forming nutrients that threaten the Bay.

Shad
Shad are anadromous, which means they spend most of their life at sea and only enter fresh water to spawn.

The oldest shad on record lived to be eleven years old.

A female shad releases over 100,000 eggs into the water to be fertilized by several males.

Dams, built for hydroelectric power and other purposes, have prevented Shad from reaching their breeding and spawning habitat, causing them to become very scarce in the Bay.

Saving the Bay
There are many things you can do to help save the Bay.

Carpool
Cars cause pollution, which falls or drains into the Bay. Carpools help reduce the number of cars on the road. Fewer cars mean less pollution.

Plant a Tree
Trees help to clean the soil by absorbing harmful nutrients. Trees also help prevent erosion, keeping harmful sediments and nutrients out of the Bay.

Product Choice
Many products you use to clean your home contain chemicals that can harm the Bay. When used outside, they can wash off lawns and streets. They can flow into storm drains and end up in the Bay. When they are thrown away, they can end up in land fills. After time, they can seep into the groundwater and are washed into the Bay.

Look for cleaning products that are non-toxic. These products use special chemicals that are not harmful to
the Bay.

Chesapeake: A Bay Trippers Adventure is broadcast by MPT's K-12 Educational Video Service.
Click here to check the schedule.