Chesapeake Bay Essay

1146 words - 5 pages

Chesapeake Bay Report Ellen Denker The Chesapeake Bay Ecosystem The Chesapeake Bay ecosystem is a great resource. It houses many types of animals, plants and marine life. People eat from it and play in it. The Chesapeake Bay receives about half its water volume from the Atlantic Ocean and the rest drains into the Bay from parts of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia and the entire District of Columbia. It is a threatened resource. Loss of habitat, overharvesting, pollutions and disease are some of the reasons it needs to be protected.Geology of the Chesapeake Geologic History of the Bay can be summarized by saying it originally came from glacier activity long ago. About 10,000 years ago it began forming as it is now when they started to melt and since about 3000 years ago it was like it is today. The Chesapeake Bay is approximately 200 miles long but contains more than 4,400 miles of shoreline. The average depth is only 27 feet. The Bay lies totally within the Atlantic Coastal Plain which is a flat, low land area with a maximum elevation of about 300 feet above sea level. Because of the different types of terrain water flows from into the bay it has a lot of different types of chemicals in it. Some of those include dense crystalline rock like slates, marble and granite, plus sandstone, siltstone, shale and limestone.Water and Sediments "Estuarine systems offer the greatest physical variability in water composition. An estuary, according to oceanographer Donald W. Pritchard, is a "... semi-enclosed body of water which has free connection with the open sea and within which sea water is measurably diluted by freshwater from land drainage." Within an estuary, freshwater mixes with salt water, with each contributing its own chemical and physical characteristics. This creates a range of environments that support a wide variety of plants and animals." From the website www.gmu.edu/bios/bay/cbpo The Chesapeake Bay is a good example of an estuarine system. There are three important physical characteristics of the water - salinity (how much salt in the water), temperature and circulation which affect the stability of the ecosystem.. Because it mixes with the ocean it is salty, more near the ocean and less as it goes closer to the fresh water sources and can change depending on how much rain there might be, changing the amount of fresh water. Rain also changes the circulation patterns. The temperature changes a lot because the water is pretty shallow.People add other substances to the Bay's water creating serious pollution problems. Heavy metals, insecticides, herbicides and a variety of synthetic products and by-products can be toxic to living resources The water that flows into the bay carries a lot of sediment (dirt) from erosion. Sediments are a natural part of the Bay ecosystem but too much of it can cause problems because it fills in ports and waterways. Several colonial seaports, like Port Tobacco, Maryland, have...

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