"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

July 5, 2016

The Chesapeake Bay

“It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.” —Unknown

I did a post in May 2012 about the Chesapeake Bay and the number of days we’d spent cruising its shorelines. It’s been over four years and even though we’ve spent most of the last two years in Florida, we’ve had a chance to explore even more great places on the Chesapeake Bay. We've spent over 175 days on the Bay; we’ve anchored in 23 different anchorages and visited 18 cities and towns. There are many more places we’d like to visit…a cruiser could spend a lifetime on the Bay and never get bored.

  • The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary: a body of water where fresh and salt water mix. It is the largest of more than 100 estuaries in the United States.
  • The Bay is about 200 miles long, stretching from Havre de Grace, Maryland, to Virginia Beach, Virginia.
  • The Bay's width ranges from 4 miles near Aberdeen, Maryland, to 30 miles near Cape Charles, Virginia.
  • The average depth of the Bay is about 21 feet, but is 174 feet at it’s deepest.
  • The Bay and its tidal tributaries have 11,684 miles of shoreline – more than the entire U.S. west coast.
  • The surface area of the Bay and its tidal tributaries is approximately 4,480 square miles.
Water and Watershed:
  • The Chesapeake Bay holds more than 18 trillion gallons of water.
  • The Chesapeake Bay watershed covers 64,000 square miles.
  • The Chesapeake Bay watershed includes parts of six states – Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia – and the entire District of Columbia.
  • Approximately 51 billion gallons of water flow into the Bay each day from its freshwater tributaries.
  • The Susquehanna River is the Bay’s largest river. It provides nearly 50 percent of the fresh water coming into the Bay – an average of 19 million gallons of water per minute.
  • The Chesapeake Bay watershed is home to more than 17 million people. About 150,000 new people move into the Bay watershed each year.
  • More than 100,000 streams, creeks and rivers flow into the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Approximately 7.3 million acres of land in the Bay watershed portions of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia are permanently preserved from development.
  • There are more than 700 public access points on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
Flora and Fauna:
  • The Bay supports more than 2,700 species of plants and animals, including 348 species of finfish and 173 species of shellfish.
  • The Bay produces about 500 million pounds of seafood per year.
  • The Chesapeake region is home to at least 29 species of waterfowl.
  • Nearly 80,000 acres of bay grasses grow in the shallows of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Young and molting blue crabs rely on bay grass beds for protection from predators.
  • Approximately 284,000 acres of tidal wetlands grow in the Chesapeake Bay region. Wetlands provide critical habitat for fish, birds, crabs and many other species.
  • Forests cover 58 percent of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The region loses about 100 acres of      forest each day to development.

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