Lifeblood of the Bay: How increasing acidity threatens the Chesapeake Bay's shellfish and economy
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[From paper]: The Chesapeake Bay, an impressive body of water located on the eastern shore of the United States stretches across six states, with more than 3,600 species of plants and animals depending on the Bay for survival and safety.1 Because of this rich saturation of plant and animal life in the Chesapeake Bay, more than 18 million people depend on the Bay as a source of food, shelter, and business. The waters of the Bay are fed by the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which is the third-largest estuary in the world. An estuary, which is an enclosed body of water fed by a series of rivers creates a unique mix of freshwater and saltwater in the Chesapeake Bay2. Since the Bay is so expansive, and its waters so diverse, several factors contribute to the health and quality of the water including concentrations of toxins, acidity, and more. Shellfish that make their homes in the Chesapeake Bay, including crabs, oysters, and clams provide a substantial source of industry and economic success to the surrounding states, growing by the year3. But, ironically, even though these animals are considered cornerstones of American diets and industry, often, the problems facing these animals are completely ignored. In the years since mass industrialization in the United States, the waters of the Chesapeake Bay have been under significant threat from the increasing acidity of the water. The acidification of the water of the Chesapeake Bay uniquely affects essential, yet often underestimated organisms, such as shellfish. The increasing acidity of water in the Chesapeake Bay is directly responsible for the decline in the health of shellfish in the bay, therefore, to combat this, action needs to be taken toward improving the quality of the water so that shellfish and their associated industries can thrive.