The Chesapeake Bay is a diverse ecosystem that supports more than 2,700 species of plants and animals on land and in the water. Like any other system, the Bay ecosystem is made up of pieces that interact with each other to form a whole. In other words, all of the plants and animals in the Bay ecosystem depend on each other in some way.
Each species has an important role in the Bay food web, and a balanced food web contributes to a healthy ecosystem. Plankton, for example, support small fish like bay anchovies and menhaden; stable populations of bay anchovies and menhaden support larger species like striped bass and bluefish.
An ecosystem like this one must be enormously productive to support substantial populations of species at the highest levels of the food web. For every pound of commercial fish taken from the Bay, almost 8,000 pounds of underlying species have to be produced.
Every living thing needs a healthy ecosystem to survive. While human activities can affect the Bay ecosystem—adding pollution, removing resources and changing the character of the land—we can make choices and take actions in our everyday lives to lessen our impact on the Bay ecosystem and the plants and animals that live in it.