Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Explore our list of frequently asked questions to learn more about the Bay and its watershed, habitats and wildlife. You can browse the FAQ by category, or explore the answers to some of our most common questions below.
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What is a tributary?
A tributary is a creek, stream or river that flows into a larger body of water. For example, the Susquehanna, Potomac and James rivers are tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.
What is an ecosystem?
An ecosystem is a complex set of relationships among animals, plants, habitats, people and non-living things. All parts of an ecosystem interact with and depend on each other in some way.
How big is the Chesapeake Bay?
The Chesapeake Bay is about 200 miles long, stretching from Havre de Grace, Maryland, to Norfolk, Virginia. The Bay’s width varies from its narrowest point (3.4 miles across near Aberdeen, Maryland) to its widest point (35 miles across near the mouth of the Potomac River).
How deep is the Chesapeake Bay?
On average, the Chesapeake Bay is about 21 feet deep. However, most parts of the Bay are extremely shallow. A person who is 6 feet tall could wade through more than 700,000 acres of the Bay and barely get his or her hat wet. The Bay also has a few channels that are more than 100 feet deep, which provide important habitat for aquatic life and passageways for ships. The deepest part of the Bay is 174 feet deep.
Which rivers and streams flow into the Chesapeake Bay?
The Choptank, James, Nanticoke, Patapsco, Patuxent, Potomac, Rappahannock, Susquehanna and York rivers are just a few of the many rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. These rivers are fed by the hundreds of thousands of streams and creeks that flow through the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
What is a watershed?
A watershed is an area of land that drains to a particular river, lake, bay or other body of water.
How big is the Chesapeake Bay watershed?
The Chesapeake Bay watershed stretches across more than 64,000 square miles.
What is salinity?
Salinity is a measure of the amount of dissolved salts in the water. Water can be fresh, salty or brackish (a mixture of salt and fresh water).
What is an estuary?
An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water where fresh water from streams and rivers mixes with salt water from the ocean. The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary.
How many miles of shoreline make up the Chesapeake Bay?
The Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries have roughly 11,600 miles of shoreline—more than the entire U.S. west coast.
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