I marvel when flying over Chesapeake Bay. I think back to the formation of colonies and then a nation. Looking down at all the rivers and coastline, I am convinced it was the most perfect place on the planet for those early pilgrims.
Wikipedia tells that Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. The drainage basin is over 64,000 square miles, with over 150 rivers and streams emptying into the bay. Chesapeake Bay Program adds some additional facts - Today over 17 million people live in the region. The bay was formed 35 million years ago when a comet-like object struck the Delmarva Peninsula and created a 55 mile-wide crater. Captain John Smith traveled into the bay in small skiff in 1608, discovering the Potomac River.
In the 1970s, marine dead zones alarmingly developed in the bay, primarly as a result of runoff and pollution feeding algae blooms. USGS has released a report detailing the runoff and pollution have improved substantially since 1985. Scientists are concerned though, that the improvement has slowed over the past ten years.
Mmm. But are there more desirable living things in the water? Sheesh - scientists! Bay Health is not encouraging. From 2010 to 2011, there was a decrease of underwater grasses by almost 25 percent. From 2011 to 2012, the number of spawning-age blue female blue crabs decreased by almost 50 percent. In 2011, only half of the waters achieved the phytoplankton (those things that create blooms) goal.
Mmm. Pretty discouraging isn't it? I think to make significant improvement in the environment, we must manage population growth.