About the Chesapeake Bay: The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America. The Chesapeake Bay Watershed includes an area of 64,299 square miles and includes parts of Maryland, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, and Washington DC.
An estuary is a partially enclosed area where the fresh water from rivers mixes with tidal salt water.
The Chesapeake Bay was formed over 10,000 years ago when melting glacial ice caused sea levels to rise in the Atlantic Ocean. The rising waters of the Atlantic Ocean backed up into the Susquehanna River Valley, creating a new bay.
The bay that was created by the flooding of the Susquehanna was know as Chesepiooc by the Algonquin Indians who were living around the bay when the first European settlers arrived. The meaning of the word Algonquin word "Chesepiook" is unclear. While it was once commonly believed to translate to "great shellfish bay" an Algonquin linguist stated in the Washington Post that the word may mean "Great Water" or refer to a village at a big river.
Captain John Smith explored and mapped the Chesapeake between 1607 and 1609. In his journal, he said this of the Bay: "Heaven and earth have never agreed better to from a place for man's habitation." We have to agree - the Chesapeake Bay region is a wonderful place to live.
The Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Things you can do to protect the Bay