Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and one of the most important natural landscapes in North America. She is a southward to the Atlantic Ocean extending bay of the same between the Delmarva Peninsula to the east and the North American mainland, surrounded by the states of Virginia and Maryland to the west and.

The name Chesepiooc meant in the Algonquian language of the Powhatan and Nanticoke Indian tribes, who were based here, probably Big river or maybe designated a village at the mouth of the water to the open sea. Captain John Smith, a principal of the Pocahontas legend, explored the first white man in 1608 the bay.


The bay is bordered by the U.S. states of Virginia and Maryland and covers an area of ​​12,000 km ². Its catchment area covers a total of 165.8 thousand km ²; to him includes portions of six U.S. states - in addition to Virginia and Maryland and New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia - and the entire District of Columbia. More than 150 rivers and streams flow into the waters, the 311 km wide extending from the Susquehanna River in the north to the open Atlantic Ocean. Seen River Historically, the bay is the old lower valley of the Susquehannas, into which he had dug 15,000 years ago during the last Ice Age, when sea level was still about 100 m below the present.

At its narrowest point east of Annapolis (Maryland), the Bay is only 6.5 km wide, it is there spanned by the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Near the mouth of the building Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel connects the two sides.

The crater

In the Eocene, 35 million years ago struck today receipt of a bay, a meteorite; the center of the developed thereby, 85 km wide and 1.3 km deep impact crater is located eight kilometers west of Cape Charles, the structure was discovered because of its undersea location until 1993 when oil drilling. The crater is filled with breccias that have been overlaid over the years from a 300 to 500 meter thick layer of sediments. The leading to the formation of the breccias fragmentation also affected the natural aquifer and is responsible for ensuring that here the salinity of the groundwater is 1.5 times as high as elsewhere. Mostly groundwater for drinking water purposes is to brackish, what was the residents of the affected areas, of course, well known; but not until the discovery of the crater brought the explanation of the facts.

The first indications of the impact was a hole in the far Atlantic City, where you found a 20 cm thick layer of ejecta, signs of a massive impact. Despite his age, he is probably partly responsible for the emergence of today's Bay.


Over long distances is the banks as steep coast were, the fall line of the Piedmont Plateau higher the actual coastal plain. Near the shore, in the west are the biggest cities and ports: Annapolis, Baltimore, Washington, DC and the agglomeration around the Hampton Roads. On the rugged eastern shore, there are only small towns, quaint fishing villages and picturesque little towns, bob up and down in their marinas countless yachts alongside the boats of the fishermen. In the subsequent and largely under conservation Delmarva Peninsula extensive marshes, swamps, forests and pasture areas emerged.

The marshes are regularly flooded by the tides, their grasses are resistant to the salt water. This peculiar landscape provides a nutrient-rich protection and habitat for various bird species ( blue herons, bald eagles, osprey, Canadian geese, storks, tundra swans and many migratory birds on their way to the Caribbean ), fish ( flounder, perch, shad, minnows ) and for crabs and oysters.

Mouth of rivers

Fishing grounds in the changing times

The bay has long been famous for its rich fishing grounds, especially for seafood such as crabs, clams and oysters. Also diamond turtles that were popularly used to soup and stews, they started here in large numbers.

The journalist HL Mencken of Baltimore indicated the beginning of the 20th century, the Chesapeake Bay a "natural protein factory". In that era the tasty oyster Crassotrea virginia prospered so numerous that the charts noted the oyster beds as dangerous obstacles in the often only two to six meters deep maritime waters. At the zenith of the oyster fishing in the middle of the 19th century lived by him 7,000 fishermen.

Since that time, over-fertilization by agriculture (especially on the east coast ) and by the pollution due to urbanization are due to overfishing for over a hundred years, (especially on the west coast of the bay) greatly diminished the stocks. In the so-called Chesapeake Bay Agreement of 1987, the riparian states agreed to higher benchmarks on their conservation in this still shellfish richest estuary of the United States. Currently, 45,000 tons of crab meat are here annually fished what the U.S. does, as before, the biggest crab meat exporter in the world; of the previous inventory figures are, however, still far away, the Agreement was not particularly successful in this respect.

The former governor of Maryland, Robert Ehrlich, his campaign also won with expanding environmental protection on the Chesapeake Bay.


The bay was in 1781 the scene of the Battle of the Chesapeake Bay. The French fleet defeated the Royal Navy at that time, so that the land forces of the British general Charles Cornwallis did not get any support. In the end, therefore, the U.S. could enforce their independence from Great Britain.

From around the Chesapeake Bay Retriever dog breed originates.