The Chesapeake Bay and its animals are in much more danger than most people realize. The reason is because of some of the things that people do!
Oysters are the bay’s natural filters. Their responsibility is to keep the Chesapeake Bay’s water clean. Adult oysters can filter 50 gallons of water everyday! Before colonial times there were tons of oysters in the bay, and the water was blue and clear. It took the oysters about a week to filter the entire bay. Then people settled in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Eventually they over-fished and polluted the bay with trash, fertilizer, animal waste, gasoline, and other pollutants. There were also diseases in the area. The oyster population decreased and soon there wasn’t enough oysters to filter all of the water in the bay. The Chesapeake Bay has lost more than 98% of its oysters since colonial times! Today it would take oysters about a year to filter the entire Chesapeake Bay!
Ospreys are birds that live over top of the Chesapeake Bay. They build their nests on treetops, cliffs, and man-made platforms. The male osprey usually finds the place to build the nest. When ospreys build their nests, the female builds it and the male finds the materials for the nest. They make nests out of sticks, grasses, algae, bark, and vines. When people throw their trash outside, don’t put their trash in the trashcan, and go fishing and leave their nets or lines outside, the ospreys mistaken our trash as the materials they need to build their nests. Then they get tangled up or cut by our trash, and get hurt and even die! Our trash and lazy behavior has killed animals!
Dead zones are areas where no life exists. In water, dead zones occur when oxygen levels become so low that all animal life will die because of suffocation. Dead zones are big signs that the body of water is not healthy at all. Believe it or not, the Chesapeake Bay has dead zones!
What You Can Do
Some things you can do to help the bay become healthy again are:
Pick up trash and don’t litter. If you find trash on the ground, pick it up and put it in a trashcan. Never be the litterer! Always put your trash in a trashcan.
Clean up any spills you make. If you accidentally spill something, clean it up before it runs into the street and down a storm drain. Storm drains lead to the bay.
Never dump anything down a storm drain. Storm drains dump anything that goes in it into the bay. Just like you don’t want trash and toxins in your home, neither do the fish and other animals!
Wash your car on a grassy area. When you wash your car on your driveway, all of the dirty water washes into the street and picks up more dirty stuff. Then all of the dirty water goes down a storm drain into the bay. If you wash your car over grass, the water will seep into the ground and be filtered before it gets to the ground water.
Tell your friends. Tell your friends about what they can do to help make the bay a happy and healthy place again.