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The Oyster Population Of The The Chesapeake Bay

3325 words - 13 pages

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States .It holds 18 hundred trillion gallons of water. The Bay is about 200 miles long, and is home to more than 17 million people. It has been on earth for millions of years and has survived many different events. The importance of the Chesapeake Bay is incredible; two of the United States’ five major North Atlantic ports – Baltimore and Hampton Roads – are on the Bay. (Chesapeake Bay Program, n/d). The Chesapeake Bay provides shelter and food to all living things in the surrounding area. Both people and animals use the Bays resources every day and have done so for centuries.
One of the Bays biggest resources is its oysters. Oysters are filter feeders which mean they feed on agley and clean the water. The oysters feed on agley and other pollutants in the bay turning them into food for them, then they condense the food down to nutrient and developed things like pearls.Filtering the water also helps the oyster to grow. One oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day, Oysters used to be able to filter the Bay in about a week. However these creatures are now scarce in the bay. The Chesapeake Bays Oyster (crassostrea virginica) Population has declined severely because of over harvesting, agricultural runoff, and disease. Now the Chesapeake Bay is becoming polluted without the oysters and the water is not nearly as clean as it once was. The Chesapeake Bay was the first estuary in the nation to be targeted for restoration as an integrated watershed and ecosystem. (Chesapeake Bay Program n/d). This report will show the cause and effect of the Chesapeake Bay's Oyster decline on the Bay.

The Chesapeake Bay means ‘Great shellfish Bay’ in Algonquin. The bay was once plentiful with Oysters dating back to about 5,000 years ago. The Chesapeake Bay Oyster reefs stuck out like mountains at one time, and the reefs were actually hazards to ships sailing through the Bay. William Strachey, wrote in 1612 that “Oysters there be in whole banks and beds, and those of the best. I have seen some thirteen inches long.” (Strachey 1953). The abundance of oysters is incredible,” wrote the Swiss nobleman Francis Louis Michel in 1701.(cbf, 2010).
People began to use and eat oysters around 4,500 years ago, shell deposits called middens were created as people harvested the Oysters. After people ate the oysters they would drop the middens in the same place they drop it in before, this continued repeatedly over the years creating huge piles of shells, this made ideal homes for the oysters. Oysters need a hard surface to live on and the middens were hard and durable, perfect for the oysters. At the White Oak Point site on the south shore of the Potomac near the Coan River, archaeologists found evidence that people had returned repeatedly to this same place to collect and eat oysters and other shellfish for over 3,000 years.(Miller n/d).
For some time retrieving the Oysters proved challenging, so Europeans and natives...

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