The Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay is one of the largest, most complex, and, finally, diverse ecosystems with hundreds of species of rare plants and wildlife, including fish, birds, invertebrates, and, finally, reptiles. The Chesapeake Bay is of paramount importance because this estuary provides critically important habitat for wildlife as well as a huge variety of recreational opportunities for humans. However, human-made influences have resulted in threatening consequences that put at risk the growth and prosperity of the Chesapeake Bay. At present, protection and effective restoration of the Bay are considered to be a priority because bay’s streams, minerals, scenic beauty, biodiversity, and unique wildlife are fundamental to economies and environment on local as well as global levels. The current paper aims to shed light on the overwhelming importance of the Chesapeake Bay, extremely high pollution levels of this territory, and, finally, efficient tactics and strategies, especially threats and benefits of introduction of non-native oysters to the Chesapeake Bay, that will ensure a unique opportunity to save the Chesapeake Bay and its appealing and timeless beauty.

Taking into consideration the estimations of the researchers who explore the significance of water bodies, the Chesapeake Bay is of utmost importance because it provides immense economic, cultural, environmental, and ecological advantages to communities. First, the Chesapeake Bay provides home not only to approximately 17 million people, but also houses more than 3,500 species of animals as well as plants. Moreover, official statistics provides convincing evidence that the Chesapeake Bay is one of the most powerful and influential sources that promotes tourism and contributes to the development of nature-based recreation industries and activities. For instance, the amount of annual trips taken by Americans to coastal areas of the Bay exceeds 900 million. This data proves that the Chesapeake Bay is a famous tourist destination that fascinates people with its diverse and unusual land and aquatic flora and fauna. In addition, results of statistics prove that crabbing, fishing, boating as well as kayaking and sailing are examples of many other interesting and innovative activities that motivate tourists from different corners of the globe to visit the Chesapeake Bay, especially Maryland and Virginia.

 
 

After having shed light on the first reason associated with tourism and recreation that explains the significance of the Bay, it is important to stress that oyster farming and well-developed fishing industry are another bright factors that strengthen the importance of the Chesapeake Bay. The researchers claim that the Chesapeake Bay provides vitally important economic resources, especially oysters and crabs, that have positive effects on environment and economics as these industries reduce hazardous effects of human-made impacts and are the main sources of stable income.

Despite the Chesapeake Bay is one of the largest and most beautiful estuaries that provides home for humans as well as wildlife habitat, leads to economic feasibility, promotes the development of tourism and offers dozens of fascinating recreational opportunities, pollution of the Chesapeake Bay is one of the most critical factors that should be considered by the global community with the primary purpose to avoid disastrous economic consequences, crash of the whole ecosystem, and other irreversible impacts. In general, excessive amounts of nutrients, losses of forests and wetlands, and global warming are three main problems that compromise health of the Chesapeake Bay. To begin with, significant percentage of the territory has been transformed by people who live here into areas used for diverse agricultural, suburban, and, finally, urban purposes that have resulted in catastrophic consequences for the Chesapeake Bay. Excessive use of these areas for agricultural purposes has led to extremely high amounts of dangerous nutrients, especially phosphorus and nitrogen that cause algae populations in the Chesapeake Bay to grow and bloom with the increased speed. Consequently, overabundance of algae caused by excessive amounts of nutrients results in two main challenges associated with considerable reduction of sunlight as well as failure of oxygen to dissolve as numerous living organisms perish without sufficient amount of oxygen levels. 

The second factor that contributes to pollution of this area is directly linked to deforestation and considerable losses of wetlands because human activities in urban and suburban areas lead to removal of “unnecessary” hectares of forests and wetlands. Researchers provide convincing arguments that forests and wetlands are critical to health of this sensitive area because huge stands of trees not only increase the quality of water and air, but also contribute to the economic development of this territory. Therefore, forests and wetlands provide food, shelter, and thousands of nesting sites as well as absolutely safe migration paths. Finally, deforestation is unacceptable in this region because it considerably decreases the use of energy for commercial and energy purposes that also pollutes the environment. 

Finally, global warming is the third threatening component that may drastically alter this territory, its wildlife, resources, and natural habitat. Scientists who explore the influence of climate change of this largest nation’s estuary provide convincing data that in case climate change continues, it will definitely result in the increased sea levels and will drastically reshape the unique coastal landscape of this territory. According to the information presented in one of the recent reports of the National Wildlife Federation about the influence of global warming on the Chesapeake Bay, warmer air and water resources will lead to irreversible alteration in composition of species of animals and plants, accelerate the processes of worsening of so-called “dead zones”, increase threatening algal blooms, contribute to the development and proliferation of dangerous marine diseases, and promote quick expansion of various invasive species. 

Because the problems of global warming, losses of forests as well as wetlands, and, finally, excessive amount of nutrients are daunting, the global community should take effective measures in order not to turn the Chesapeake Bay into the “lost paradise”. Effective oyster restoration is considered to be the most effective solution to the problem associated with excessive pollution of these coastal areas as oyster farming not only ensures a chance to maintain the increased productivity of the bay, but also filters hazardous impurities, especially such nutrients as nitrogen and phosphorus. Although Menzie assure that oyster restoration is a challenging and complicated task as it may cause numerous ecological risks, it will drastically decrease the amounts of non-native species, slow down the growth of algal, accelerate dissolution of oxygen, and, finally, eliminate other effects of human-made pollution. Despite introduction of non-native species of oysters is a challenging and controversial process because the Chesapeake Bay, unlike many other estuaries in different corners of the globe, is famous for having only one species of oysters that is called Crassostrea virginica, I believe that introduction of non-native oysters is definitely a winning decision that can save this territory.  Opponents of introduction of non-native oysters assure that it will lead to numerous unprecedented consequences, including decline in the amounts of native oyster populations and proliferation of threatening diseases. However, I am convinced that non-native oysters should be introduced for numerous beneficial purposes, especially effective habitat reconstruction, improved water quality, and effective disease resistance. In general, poor quality of water is the main reason why non-native oysters should be introduced because low-oxygen levels in this estuary, limited amounts and death of native oysters are the main causes of water pollution in the Chesapeake bay that increase the need in non-native species.

Therefore, according to the information provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, significant decrease in litter and nutrient amounts is the second important strategy that will ensure unique opportunity to tackle the problem of environmental pollution on these areas and excessive growth of algae. However, nowadays the amounts of nutrients on this territory are so high that it is not enough for the local community to stop fertilizing soils. Because of this reason, scientists have designed and developed effective methods that will give the chance to trap excessive nutrients, especially phosphorus and nitrogen. 

Finally, discouraging extensive coastal development as well as shoreline armoring is another vitally important anti-pollution strategy that will positively influence the health of this bay. In other words, agencies on federal, state, and local levels should take effective measures in order to amend and shape plans and intentions of people for coastal development in order to protects forests and wetlands because these territories should be classified as ecologically sensitive and vulnerable. 

Thus, it is possible to come to conclusions that the significance of the Chesapeake Bay is enormous because this area has numerous positive environmental and economic outcomes. The significance of this bay is tremendous because of its hunting, fishing, and many other recreational activities it offers to people. However, human-made activities that cause global warming, losses of wetlands, deforestation, and extremely high amounts of nutrients threaten the health of this vulnerable area. People who live in this region should call for immediate actions now in order to prevent further degradation of this territory. Finally, it is important to stress that the Bay region has a chance for survival in case people change their unethical behaviors, slow down the expansion of these areas, and act responsibly. 

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