Bay Habitats

The Chesapeake Bay provides a range of habitats to plants, fish and wildlife. The health of each habitat is important to the conservation and restoration of the watershed’s diverse ecosystems. Underwater grasses, rivers and streams, marshes and wetlands, and forests provide thousands of species with food, shelter, breeding grounds and nurseries for raising young. The watershed even serves as “habitat highways” for fish populations along the Atlantic coast and birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway.

These habitats also keep the Bay clean and healthy. Marshes and forest buffers can trap runoff and slow the flow of pollution into rivers and streams. Wetlands can dampen storm surges, protecting shorelines from erosion and properties from floods. Rivers and streams act as the arteries that connect the upper and lower parts of the watershed, providing passage for migratory fish and a physical connection from every local community to the Bay.

Healthy habitats are essential to sustaining Bay species and maintaining the Bay ecosystem. But these vital habitats continue to be removed, damaged and threatened by human development and pollution.


Bay Grasses

Bay grasses are plants that grow underwater. They can be found in the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and are a critical part of the Bay ecosystem.

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Oyster Reefs

The eastern oyster is one of the most recognizable species in the Chesapeake Bay. Because oysters contribute to clean water and habitat, restoring them will be critical to restoring the watershed.

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Rivers and Streams

The rivers and streams of the Chesapeake Bay watershed supply our drinking water, irrigate our crops and offer critical wildlife habitat, but their health is threatened by human behavior.

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Wetlands provide a number of ecosystem services that make them vital to the region’s economy and environment, supporting our commercial fishing industries and improving the health of the entire Bay.

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