The Chesapeake Bay is a 200-mile-long estuary and so much more.

Chesapeake Bay page

Running from Havre de Grace, Maryland to Norfolk, Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay is the nation's largest estuary, but it is so much more. The Bay has more than 50 major streams and rivers pouring into it daily and is impacted by hundreds of water sources pouring into those streams and rivers. It encompasses a watershed area covering about 64,000 square miles! The watershed runs from New York through 6 states before ending at the ocean so the environmental impacts on any part of this vast area will ultimately impact the ocean.

Quick Facts about the Bay

  • Located in the mid-Atlantic region
  • Coastal estuary covers about 200 miles
  • Total shoreline, including tributaries, runs 11,684 miles
  • The width ranges from 2.8 miles to 30 miles across
  • Average depth is 21 feet with the deepest point being 174 feet


While visiting this exhibit, we hope guests will feel as though they are walking along the bay floor with fish swimming by offering an eye-level experience.


CB Touch Pool Chesapeake Bay Habitats

This exhibit gives our guests the opportunity to get up close to some of the benthic animals of the Chesapeake Bay. Meet one of our Educators and ask your questions. If health policy allows, guests might even have a chance to feel the hard shells and spines.

Featured Animals - Chesapeake Bay Touch Pool

Knobbed Whelk
Click the image to learn more.

The whelk shell, like the similar conch shell, has long been used in certain cultures as a horn for ceremonial or communications purposes.

Atlantic Purple Sea Urchin
Click the image to learn more.

The Atlantic purple sea urchin (a.k.a purple-spined sea urchin) is an important indicator species, alerting us to deteriorating water conditions.


Chesapeake Bay Gallery Chesapeake Bay Habitats

Habitats found under the water and along the shorelines are diverse and spectacular in detail. This is gallery features individual, smaller habitats beautifully and accurately designed to give visitors the opportunity to study the finer details of habitats that some of our smaller residents call home.