Uncover interesting details about the Bay's geography, flora, fauna and people with this list of facts and figures.
Avoiding toxic pesticides
Forty-six percent of watershed residents never use toxic pesticides in or around their homes. You can evaluate a pesticide’s toxicity to judge the risk in using it, or make your own non-toxic pesticide with garlic, vinegar, cooking oil and other common household items.
Replacing grass lawn with native plants
Twenty-six percent of watershed residents have replaced an area of their grass lawn with native plants. Native plants provide food and habitat to bees, birds and butterflies, and often don’t need to be watered or fertilized.Learn more
The Bay's largest tributary
The Susquehanna River is the Bay’s largest tributary, and contributes about half of the Bay’s freshwater (about 19 million gallons per minute).
First estuary targeted for restoration
The Chesapeake Bay was the first estuary in the nation to be targeted for restoration as an integrated watershed and ecosystem.Learn more
Where does the Bay get its water?
The Bay receives about half its water volume from the Atlantic Ocean in the form of saltwater. The other half (freshwater) drains into the Bay from the enormous 64,000-square-mile watershed.
2 of 5 major ports
Two of the United States’ five major North Atlantic ports—Baltimore and Hampton Roads—are on the Bay.
10 U.S. presidents
There have been 10 U.S. presidents from the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Woodrow Wilson, James Buchanan and Joe Biden.
Nine in ten watershed residents never toss food wrappers, cups or cigarette butts on the ground. Almost eight in ten watershed residents pick up litter when they see it.
80% of the Bay's freshwater
Collectively, the Chesapeake’s three largest rivers—the Susquehanna, Potomac and James Rivers—provide more than 80% of the fresh water to the Bay.
4,480 square miles of surface area
The surface area of the Bay and its tidal tributaries is approximately 4,480 square miles.
1.6 billion pounds of blue crabs
Since 1990, commercial watermen have harvested more than 1.6 billion pounds of blue crabs from the Bay. Data show commercial harvest has experienced a steady decline, and in 2014 hit the lowest level recorded in 25 years: 35 million pounds.Learn more
10,000 years old
The Chesapeake Bay was formed about 10,000 years ago when glaciers melted and flooded the Susquehanna River valley.
60% of Chesapeake forests
Sixty percent of Chesapeake forests have been divided into disconnected fragments by roads, homes and other gaps that are too wide or dangerous for wildlife to cross.Learn more
500 million pounds of seafood
The Bay produces about 500 million pounds of seafood per year.
Meaning of "Chesepiooc"
The word Chesepiooc is an Algonquian word referring to a village "at a big river." In 2005, Algonquian historian Blair Rudes helped dispel the widely-held belief that the name meant “great shellfish bay.”
70 acres of forest lost each day
Forests cover 55% of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Between 1990 and 2005, the watershed lost an estimated 100 acres of forest land each day. While this rate fell in 2006 to an estimated 70 acres per day, this rate is still unsustainable.Learn more
Remnants of an ancient river
A few deep troughs run along much of the Bay’s length and are believed to be remnants of the ancient Susquehanna River.
Largest estuary in the United States
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 and third largest in the world.Learn more
Getting oxygen underwater
Just like those on land, animals in the Chesapeake Bay need oxygen to survive. Oxygen is present underwater in dissolved form, and in order to thrive, animals like blue crabs need dissolved oxygen concentrations of three milligrams per liter.Learn more
4-30 mile width
The Bay’s width ranges from four miles near Aberdeen, Maryland, to 30 miles near cape Charles, Virginia.
Largest land-to-water ratio in the world
The Chesapeake Bay’s land-to-water ratio is 14:1: the largest of any coastal water body in the world. This is why our actions on land have such a big impact on the Bay’s health.
12 major rivers
Major rivers emptying into the Bay include the James, York, Rappahannock, Potomac, Patuxent, Patapsco and Susquehanna from the west and the Pocomoke, Wicomico, Nanticoke, Choptank and Chester from the east.
174 feet deep
The deepest part of the Bay, located southeast of Annapolis near Bloody Point, is called “The Hole” and is 174 feet deep.
500,000 Canada geese
More than 500,000 Canada geese winter in and near the Bay.Learn more