Chesapeake Bay Watershed
May 17, 2001
The above photograph is a composite of a number of Landsat images taken during the late 1990s and features the Chesapeake Bay (right center), the country's largest and most productive estuary. It's under increasing stress from pollution, sediment runoff, and other human impacts. The name is derived from a Native American word meaning shellfish. Formed about 10,000 years as the last major ice sheet melted in North America, the Bay drains approximately 64,000 square miles (outline in white) in 6 different states. This shallow estuary has an average depth of only about 20 feet. The Chesapeake Bay is home to bald eagles, osprey, rock fish, and the tasty blue crab. Crabs and beer are a summer tradition in the Bay area. Unfortunately, the number of crabs in the Bay has been declining for decades and is currently at an all-time low. A bushel of crabs might cost you $150 this summer! That's good for the crabs since perhaps not so many will be eaten, and in the long run, a growing population of crustaceans will be good for the health of the Bay.