Bumper Sticker Back Story: Save the Bay

7 Jan

© Chesapeake Bay Foundation/cbf.org

The Chesapeake Bay is about 200 miles long and stretches from Havre de Grace, Maryland, to Virginia Beach, Virginia. It’s the largest estuary in the U.S. and is depended on by local fisherman, mainly because of its blue crabs, oysters and clams. It’s also widely used for recreation (boating, swimming, etc.). Unfortunately, the bay is a mess.

The bad news
In the 1970s tests showed the world’s first known marine dead zones on the planet—aka they were so polluted that they could no longer support life. You can guess what followed: wildlife of all types suffered and so did fishermen.

What caused the bay to become so polluted? Well, the watershed includes parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as the entire District of Columbia. So all the cars we drive, fertilizers we use, electricity we consume ends up affecting the bay. The bay also suffered from being over harvesting and invasive species.

The not as bad news
Luckily, not all hope is lost—the recently released 2010 State of the Bay Report showed signs of improvement. And the water is no longer giving swimmers rashes(!), which it did in the late 1990s thanks to harmful algal blooms (which also killed massive amounts of fish). Clearly, restoring the bay is an uphill battle. Just recently, The Chesapeake Clean Water Act was blocked in the Senate.

Be a Helpy Helperton
This is a huge issue and I’ve only just scratched the surface. If you’re interested in learning more, I suggest checking out the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. (They are the ones that send out the ‘Save the Bay’ bumper stickers that you see so often in this area. Each new member receives one.) Another great resource is the Chesapeake Bay Program. And you can even volunteer.

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