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Here's how it used to be.
In 1884 the high harvest for oysters was 15 million bushels. In 2010 the annual harvest amount was 185,245 bushels. Since 1994, the Chesapeake Bay oyster population has languished at 1% of historic levels.
- Today – 1 oyster per square yard
- 1800’s – 100 oysters per square yard
The Chesapeake Bay was once world famous for its incredible supply of oysters, so numerous they were a navigational hazard. H.L. Mencken described the Bay as, “An immense protein factory.” The key role of the oyster in the ecosystem of the Bay, however, is not as a food source but as a filter for sediment and pollutants in the water. Oyster reefs also provide vital habitats for hundreds of other species. If we don’t take action now to rehabilitate oyster populations, the long-term effects to the ecosystem of the Chesapeake Bay could be catastrophic.
Life in the Chesapeake Bay
Sea Around Us and the Lenfest Ocean Future Project coupled with NOAA Chesapeake Bay to develop this 6 minute animated documentary describing the past, present and future of the Chesapeake Bay.