Native Americans living along its shores named the Bay "Chesepiook," meaning great shellfish bay, because of its abundant crabs, oysters, and clams. Generations of watermen have made their living harvesting the bounty of the Bay, while recreational fishing, hunting, and boating attract millions of people each year and contribute significantly to Maryland's economy.
For ocean-going ships, the Bay is navigable with two outlets to the Atlantic Ocean: north through the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in Cecil County, and south through the mouth of the Bay between the Virginia capes.
Three Maryland agencies bear particular responsibility for Bay matters. The Department of Agriculture directs Chesapeake Bay Agricultural Programs. The Department of the Environment works on behalf of the Bay through its Technical and Regulatory Services Administration. The Department of Natural Resources supports the work of the Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Commission and oversees the Regional Chesapeake Bay Program and the Chesapeake Bay and Watershed Programs.
Watershed. The rivers, creeks, and streams which flow into the Bay, the land surrounding them, and the Bay itself make up the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Main tributaries-Susquehanna River, Potomac River, James River-contribute 80% of the Bay's fresh water. Total tributaries: 419. Watershed area: 64,000 square miles in parts of six states-Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, West Virginia-and the District of Columbia. Watershed population: 16.4 million (1990).
|Maryland||1,726 square miles|
|Virginia||1,511 square miles|
|(widest near Cape Charles, Virginia)||30 miles|
|(narrowest at Annapolis)||4 miles|
|greatest (southeast of Annapolis)||174 feet|
|at Annapolis||1 foot|
|at head||2 feet|
|at mouth||3 feet|
|18 trillion gallons|
|at mouth||30 ppt|
|midway to head||15 ppt|
|above fall line||00 ppt|
|surface to bottom||2-3 ppt|
Maryland Department of the Environment
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Maryland at a Glance
July 10, 1998
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