Pollution in the Chesapeake Bay By Silas Eaton

As a school in Maryland, almost all Saint John’s students know what the Chesapeake Bay is along with its many tributaries. It is widely known elsewhere in the United States that the Chesapeake Bay is home to many crabs, which are delicious when they are from a restaurant nearby by the Bay. However, due to rapid pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, Marylanders may no longer have a large collection of crabs. This pollution is caused by three main substances in high abundance: nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment. These substances allow algae to grow. The algae blocks the sunlight that goes into the Chesapeake Bay from reaching the underwater grasses that serve as the base to the habitat. The sediment blocks the sun itself due to the fact that it can make the water cloudy.

The abundance of nitrogen and phosphorus in the Chesapeake Bay is mostly for human reasons. Fertilizers, septic tank discharges, air pollution, and runoff from farms, cities, and suburbs are all caused by humans, and amplified by human development. Since we take away forests and natural fields to build our structures, we have gotten rid of natural pollution filters for the Chesapeake Bay. The large amount of sediment in the Chesapeake Bay has a slight human reason, but it is almost completely a natural process. A large amount of sediment comes from natural erosion around the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and construction sites near the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

As a result of pollution, there is a lack of oxygen in the Chesapeake Bay’s water. This leads to large areas of the Chesapeake Bay being uninhabitable. These zones are called dead zones, a name which is quite ominous if you ask me. These dead zones are mostly in dead water since when algae die, that is where they fall to. When the algae die, they decompose and remove oxygen from the environment. Wildlife is impacted heavily by these dead zones. Plants cannot grow, fish have to move out of the zone, and oysters, who cannot move when conditions get bad, simply die if a new dead zone is made in their habitat. Oftentimes, when dead fish wash up on shore, they were killed by going through a dead zone.

Now, for the big question, what can we do to stop the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay? Well, first and foremost we need to limit the amount of sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus entering the bay. In order to do this, you can petition your local or state government to implement pollution reduction plans. Also, you can make day-to-day choices about how you use certain pollutants. For example, you can find another way of disposing of weeds from gardens instead of using pesticides. Most importantly, tell those that you know about the situation in the Chesapeake Bay. The more the word gets around, the more support local groups which help save the Chesapeake Bay will have.

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